Access to the medical records of a child: Legislative review required

Authors Letitia Pienaar

ISSN: 1996-2126
Affiliations: Admitted Attorney of the High Court of South Africa and Lecturer in the Department of Criminal and Procedural Law at the University of South Africa
Source: South African Journal on Human Rights, Volume 30 Issue 3, 2014, p. 508 – 525


The interplay between the constitutional right to privacy and the right to access to information constitute the parameters within which the issue of access to a child’s medical records is explored. The Children’s Act and the National Health Act provide for confidentiality pertaining to medical records and encourage participation in decisions affecting an individual’s health. The question arises whether existing legislation has been amended to support this right to confidentiality. An inquiry is done to establish if this right to confidentiality entails that the child is vested with the right to refuse access to his/her medical records? Current legislative provisions regulating this issue do not provide a clear answer. Recommendations are made for legislative amendments to bring clarity on this issue and to ensure that the child’s right to privacy in the health-care context is optimally protected.