FNC ap­proves law to stop pa­tient data from be­ing posted on­line


Health­care providers who in­vade pa­tients’ pri­vacy by shar­ing footage from op­er­a­tions could be fined up to Dh1 mil­lion un­der a pro­posed UAE law an­nounced by the Fed­eral Na­tional Coun­cil yes­ter­day.

Coun­cil mem­bers passed draft leg­is­la­tion to gov­ern the use of tech­nol­ogy in health ser­vices, af­ter an in­crease in pro­ce­dures be­ing filmed and posted on­line.

The law will pro­tect pa­tients’ data and en­sure sen­si­tive footage is shared only when con­sent is pro­vided.

Health au­thor­i­ties who flout the law could re­ceive a writ­ten warn­ing or a fine of be­tween Dh1,000 and Dh1 mil­lion, and have their med­i­cal li­cences sus­pended for six months.

Health work­ers who break the law could also have their li­cences sus­pended for up to a year and be fined up to Dh500,000.

Any party that pub­lishes a health ad­ver­tise­ment with­out a li­cence from the Min­istry of Health and Pre­ven­tion will be fined be­tween Dh100,000 and Dh200,000. Those who share health in­for­ma­tion with­out the min­istry’s con­sent will be fined be­tween Dh500,000 and Dh700,000. The min­istry also has the right to block web­sites in and out­side the UAE if they breach ad­ver­tis­ing reg­u­la­tions or pub­lish an ad­vert with­out a li­cence.

The leg­is­la­tion will pro­vide for ex­cep­tions when med­i­cal footage or data can be shared, such as giv­ing in­for­ma­tion to a health in­sur­ance provider or ju­di­cial or in­spec­tion of­fi­cials, or when the data will be used for sci­en­tific re­search and the pa­tient’s iden­tity is pro­tected.

Dr Yasser Nakhlawi, clin­i­cal di­rec­tor and chair­man of pae­di­atrics at Al Zahra Hospi­tal, said some doc­tors took pho­tos of pa­tients be­fore and af­ter a cos­metic pro­ce­dure for their web­site or so­cial me­dia ac­count to ad­ver­tise ser­vices.

“The doc­tor of course takes the con­sent of the pa­tient be­fore post­ing,” Dr Nakhlawi said. “This is au­to­matic. It doesn’t need a law to tell doc­tors to do that, it’s the ethics of the pro­fes­sion.”

But, he said, doc­tors should not be free to post images of pa­tients for ad­ver­tis­ing purposes.

“Be­cause there are doc­tors who might do it in an il­le­gal way, reg­u­lat­ing ad­verts is a good thing,” Dr Nakhlawi said. “The doc­tor may post some­thing that will later hurt the pa­tient so­cially or make them ap­pear in an in­ap­pro­pri­ate way.”

In May, the Dubai Health Au­thor­ity banned tak­ing videos of op­er­a­tions and post­ing them on so­cial me­dia. The move fol­lowed an in­crease in unau­tho­rised medics en­ter­ing op­er­at­ing the­atres to film pro­ce­dures and post­ing them live on so­cial me­dia to ad­ver­tise ser­vices.

The draft law says pa­tients’ records should be saved by a med­i­cal cen­tre for at least 15 years. But some FNC mem­bers pro­posed ex­tend­ing that to 25.

“There could be some med­i­cal in­for­ma­tion that the pa­tient will need to get back to more than 15 years later,” said Naama Al Sharhan, rep­re­sent­ing Ras Al Khaimah.

Ab­dul­rah­man Al Owais, Min­is­ter for Health and Pre­ven­tion, agreed to the ex­ten­sion.

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