All next of kin are entitled to be given general guidance and information when they come into contact with health and care services. Although healthcare professionals are subject to a duty of confidentiality concerning the patient’s illness or other personal circumstances, they are always permitted to speak with you as the patient’s next of kin. For example, healthcare professionals may provide general information such as:
- Contact details for the health service
- Procedures, staff and services
- The possibility of applying for assistive aids, welfare technology, etc.
- Legislation, case handling and rights
- Services available to next of kin, children and adults
- Information concerning user and next of kin organisations
Healthcare professionals will not breach their duty of confidentiality by listening to a patient’s next of kin. Healthcare professionals will also not breach their duty of confidentiality by talking to you about information you are already aware of. If you have been informed of the patient’s diagnosis, healthcare professionals can talk generally about the causes of the condition, symptoms, normal treatment and prognosis without breaching their duty of confidentiality.
Right to receive training and guidance
If you as a next of kin provide care which involves particularly demanding tasks, you will be entitled to receive the necessary guidance and training from the municipality. When your municipality considers what constitutes particularly demanding care, the municipality will place greatest emphasis on:
- scope (hours per month)
- physical and psychological burden of the work
- whether the work must be done regularly or periodically
- duration of care
- whether you have a duty of care
- whether you have incurred a loss of income as a result
The guidance and training will enable you as a next of kin to provide the care recipient with appropriate care and help you look after your own health and life situation.
You might for example receive training and guidance regarding the care recipient's illness or disability, such as learning how to control diabetes or what a dementia diagnosis entails. You might also receive training on how to perform certain tasks, such as heavy lifting or stress management training.
The municipality must decide when you as next of kin need training and guidance which lasts more than 14 days.
Right to information concerning the patient's health and healthcare
As next of kin, you will be entitled to be given information to the extent that the patient permits it (consents).
The patient or user will decide who their closest next of kin are and can designate more people as next of kin if appropriate. He or she can also change who they have chosen as their next of kin.
The age of majority under health law is 16 years. Patients over the age of 16 can generally make decisions concerning their own health data, and healthcare professionals will be subject to a duty of confidentiality. The patient’s consent therefore determines what information you as next of kin are entitled to receive. For example, the patient may consent to you receiving information about a single episode of the disease, a diagnosis or an injury.
Right to access the patient's medical record
The rules concerning the right of next of kin to be given information concerning the patient's healthcare also cover the patient’s medical records. The patient’s consent determines what information in their medical records you can gain access to. As next of kin, you will also be entitled to see the patient’s medical records after their death, unless there are specific reasons why you should not be given such access.
The patient's right to access medical record information from you as next of kin
When you as next of kin disclose information to the health service, the information will be added to the patient’s medical records if it is relevant and necessary for the patient’s healthcare. The patient will be entitled to access their own medical records, and this right normally also covers information provided by others, e.g. next of kin.
The patient may be denied access to such information out of consideration for the next of kin, or if giving the patient access to the information could put the life or health of the patient at risk.