A VALID health card enables citizens and residents of Qatar to access services at any Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) or Primary Health Care Corporation facility at subsidized rates. However, an alarming trend has been identified by officials at HMC that is putting people’s health at risk.

It has come to light that a small, yet significant, number of patients is presenting a health card belonging to another person when accessing care services.”Firstly, it is important to note that this practice is not only dishonest but also illegal. But more worryingly, using someone else’s health card to obtain care services or prescriptions could compromise the future health of both the owner of the card and the borrower,” stressed Dr Yousef al Maslamani, Medical Director of HMC’s Hamad General Hospital.

The major risk posed by sharing health cards is that these people will also be sharing health records. This means that doctors assessing a patient’s health condition will be looking at the medical history of another patient when making a diagnosis. The consequences of this are potentially very serious, as Dr Maslamani explains:”If a patient with existing long-term conditions such as diabetes and hypertension uses the health card of a healthy person, the examining medical team may be unaware of these existing conditions. This will mean they are unable to provide an accurate diagnosis and suitable course of treatment, putting the patient’s health at risk.”

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Patients’ medical records contain a wide range of vital information which clinical teams rely on to fully assess the health status of the patient. Details recorded on medical records include: blood type, long-term conditions, allergies and history of surgical procedures.

“The majority of health card misuse is committed by a very small minority of patients who, sadly, do not realise the seriousness of their actions and the negative impact this may have on both their own health and the health of the actual card holder. We strongly urge people to stop this illegal practice for their own safety,” said Dr Maslamani.

To obtain a health card, residents of Qatar can visit the Primary Health Center nearest to where you live. There they will be asked to fill out the appropriate forms. You can read more about how to apply for a health card on the HMC website ‘www.hamad.qa‘.