06/04/2013 06:33 EDT | Updated 08/04/2013 05:12 EDT

Government steps in to settle medical dispute over digital patient records

REGINA - The Saskatchewan government has stepped in to help three Regina doctors who were having problems getting their patients' digital medical records from the clinic where they used to work.

The office manager at the Gateway Alliance Medical Clinic says efforts to get the electronic records from the Midway Walk-in Healthcare Centre had been ongoing for two months.

Robin Anderson says Midway transferred paper files as required by Saskatchewan law, but not the digital records.

On Tuesday, Max Hendricks, associate deputy minister of health, contacted Midway owner Sam Khan, who subsequently agreed to release the digital records within 24 hours.

Hendricks says the government didn`t want a business dispute getting in the way of patients having access to their records.

The Health Information Protection Act in Saskatchewan says a physician or a clinic can act as a trustee for medical records.

The act also states that patients are entitled to copies of their medical records, but it doesn't specify in what format or how the transfer should be made.

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan has seen concerns before over paper versus digital records.

"This legislation was developed at a time where we had paper copies of everything," said Bryan Salte, associate registrar and legal counsel at the college.

"What the legislation addressed was a time where almost all patient charts were paper. Now about 60 per cent of physicians in Saskatchewan have electronic charts, not paper charts."