Hungary: Whether people possess a medical book(let) that contains their medical history; other types of medical documents; whether people can access medical care outside the area where they have a registered residence
1. Use of Medical Booklets
In correspondence with the Research Directorate, a lawyer from a law firm in Budapest, and the Medical Director of the FirstMed Centre in Budapest, a private medical clinic (FirstMed Centre n.d.), stated that Hungarian citizens do not generally possess medical booklets (ibid. 31 May 2012; Lawyer 31 May 2012). The lawyer added that there is no legal requirement for such a document (ibid.). In correspondence with the Research Directorate, the Dean of the Faculty of Health and Public Services of the Health Services Management Training Centre, at Semmelweis University in Budapest, and the Head of the Department of Family Medicine at the same university, both stated that Hungarian citizens do not have a medical booklet (Dean 1 June 2012; Department head 5 June 2012).
The department head said that the sole medical booklet that exists pertains to vaccination and contains a record of all of the patient's vaccinations (5 June 2012). However, the Medical Director added that there are three categories of people who possess medical booklets: children have a vaccination booklet - Gyermek egészsegügyi könyv; pregnant women possess a booklet - Terhesgondozási könyv; and food workers and other occupational groups whose employment entails epidemiological risks possess a booklet - Foglalkozási egészsegügyi könyv (FirstMed Centre 31 May 2012). The lawyer also stated that there are some workers who are required to possess medical booklets; specifically, those employed in the educational, social work, hospitality or food sectors who handle food or who interact with children or sick people (31 May 2012). He noted that the booklet must be validated yearly and must attest that the holder is not afflicted by any "serious" illness, particularly a contagious one (Lawyer 31 May 2012).
2. Other Medical Documents
The department head outlined the distinctions between medical certificates, medical abstracts and medical forensic reports (5 June 2012). Medical certificates, called Zarojelentes, are issued by medical clinics and hospitals and provide the following information: name of the institution; personal information about patients; the length of time the patient stayed in the institution; the patient's medical history; the result of physical, laboratory and other examinations; the consultations between doctors; the medical procedure performed; the diagnoses; the reasons for admission to the institution; and the suggested medication (Department head 5 June 2012). Medical abstracts, called Ambulans Lap, are normally issued by outpatient institutions and are brief reports that contain information on the examinations undergone by the patient (ibid.). Medical forensic reports are documents that provide information on those who have been injured due to criminal actions, and include the patient's personal data, the details of the event that produced the injury, the means by which the patient arrived at the institution, the result of the medical examination, and any requirements of the institution, such as the obligation to refer a person to a hospital or to notify the police (ibid.). Two other medical documents mentioned by the Medical Director are the hospital discharge summary, Korhazi Zarojelentes, and the simple medical certificate, Igazolas (FirstMed Centre 31 May 2012). Further information on other medical documents could not be obtained among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.
3. Access to Medical Care Outside the Area of Registered Residence
Sources indicate that people are sometimes able to access medical care outside the area of their registered residence (Dean 1 June 2012; HCLU 29 May 2012; Department head 5 June 2012). In correspondence with the Research Directorate, the head of the Patients' Rights Program of the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU) in Budapest explained that people are usually required to visit medical facilities in the area where they have a registered residence, an obligation termed területi ellátási kotelezettseg, and that people need a referral document, a beutalo, from a doctor in order to receive treatment from a different doctor or health care institution (29 May 2012). Somewhat similarly, the department head stated that people are "encouraged" to seek medical treatment in the area where they have a registered residence, although they are not restricted to obtaining health care in this region; the ability to obtain treatment in other areas is dependent on whether medical facilities in other regions are able to absorb patients from elsewhere (Department head 5 June 2012). Sources report that people can obtain emergency treatment throughout Hungary, regardless of the place of their registered residence (HCLU 29 May 2012; Department head 5 June 2012). However, the Medical Director noted that patients' access to treatment by medical specialists without any payment required is generally limited to the area of the patients' residence registration (31 May 2012).
This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of sources consulted in researching this Information Request.
Dean, Faculty of Health and Public Services, Health Management Training Centre, Semmelweis University, Budapest. 1 June 2012. Correspondence sent to the Research Directorate.
Department head, Department of Family Medicine, Semmelweis University, Budapest. 5 June 2012. Correspondence sent to the Research Directorate.
FirstMed Centre, Budapest. 31 May 2012. Correspondence sent to the Research Directorate from the Medical Director.
_____. N.d. "About Us." <http://www.firstmedcenters.com/about_us.php> [Accessed 29 June 2012]
Lawyer, Budapest. 31 May 2012. Correspondence with the Research Directorate.
Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU), Budapest. 29 May 2012. Patients' Rights Program. Correspondence sent to the Research Directorate from the Program Head.
Additional Sources Consulted
Oral sources: Representatives of the following were unable to respond to requests for information within the time constraints of this Response: Active Citizenship Network-Rome, Buda Health Centre in Budapest, Center for Ethics and Law in Biomedicine-Central European University, Corvinus University of Budapest, Department of Social Sciences-Semmelweis University, Embassy of Hungary in Ottawa, Epithelial Adesion Patient Association, Hungarian Osteoporosis Patient Association, Hungarian PROREC Centre, International Medical Services in Budapest, Medicover Szepvolgyi Health Care Centre in Budapest, Kelen Hospital-Budapest, Law firm-Budapest, Hungary-Ministry of Health, Social and Family Affairs; National Institute of Primary Health Care, Parliamentary Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information, Physician-Budapest, POLnet, Rozakert Medical Center in Budapest, SOTE Pulmonary Clinic-Tudokorhaz, Szoszolo Foundation for Patients' Rights, University of Pecs Medical School, World Health Organization Hungary.
Internet sites, including: Amnesty International, British Broadcasting Corporation, The Budapest Times, Center for Public Integrity, ecoi.net, Embassy of Hungary in Canada, Factiva, Freedom House, Human Rights Watch, Hungary-Ministry of Health, Ministry of Interior; Open Society Justice Initiative, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Transparency International.