Ruling: Right to Medical Information Following Forced Hospitalization

Supreme Court Petition # 7905/02


Hon. Justice D. Dorner
Hon. Justice A. Procaccia
Hon. Justice E. Hayot

The respondents:
1. Health Ministry
2. The Yehuda Abrabanel Mental Health Center

Date of ruling: July 28, 2003

The request by the appellant, who was hospitalized in a psychiatric hospital, to be given the medical records relating to her hospitalization was rejected and the authorities’ proposal to provide partial information as an alternative was rejected by her, based on the provisions of the Treatment of the Mentally Ill Law, 1991 (henceforth: “the Treatment of Mentally Ill Law”). Accordingly, the appellant appealed to the Tel Aviv-Yafo District Court with a lawsuit demanding a mandatory injunction for the medical records to be provided to her, or alternatively, for the procedures stipulated in the Patients’ Rights Law, 1996 (henceforth: “the Patients’ Rights Law”) to be enforced, according to which the final decision concerning the transfer of information rests with the Ethics Committee. The District Court considered that since the Treatment of Mentally Ill Law is a special law, it takes precedence over the Patients’ Rights Law, and consequently rejected the legal suit.

This is the source of the case before us, which in our opinion is based in law. The right of a patient to obtain information is secured in a later and general law that applies to all patients.

Yet, clearly, in its decisions, the Ethics Committee must take into consideration the type of illness and its effects, under the law.

Accordingly, with the State’s approval, we accept the appeal, cancel the District Court’s ruling and rule that the appellant’s request should be discussed by the Ethics Committee to which the request is transferred under Clause 18 of the Patients’ Rights Law.

Under the circumstances, we have not seen fit to issue an order to reimburse the costs of the legal proceedings.

Handed down this day, 28 Tammuz, 5763 (28.7.03).

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Categories: Democracy and Civil Liberties, Forced Hospitalization, Freedom of Information

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