Information concerning the deceased
The deceased person's next of kin will in most cases have the opportunity to receive medical and personal data about the deceased person. Defamation is an offence even when the target is a deceased person.
Medical records are secret also after a person's death. The next of kin can only under certain conditions be given the deceased person's medical records.
Health care units will cede information on the basis of a written request. The recipient of the information cannot use or cede the information to a third party for other purposes.
It is also possible to cede information when a family member wants to determine the penetrance of a genetic disorder the deceased had while alive. If the next of kin wants to determine if the deceased person's disease or disorder is genetic on the basis of modern medicine, a doctor can provide the information in the form of a medical opinion.
Information can also be needed for determining the validity of the last will and testament if there is a dispute among relatives on whether e.g. a mental illness influenced the content of the last will and testament.
Yes, this can be up to interpretation. Legislation does not clearly limit which medical records a doctor can cede at request to the deceased person's next of kin. A health care unit or private doctor will have to use discretion and determine the limits independently. Legislation does not comprehensively provide for who are considered the deceased person's next of kin.
Death certificates are confidential documents if less than 50 years has passed from the person's death. However, the deceased person's next of kin can order a copy of the death certificate from Statistics Finland. Read more about the death certificate on page Authorities investigate the cause of death.
If you as a family member suspect that someone has defamed or slandered you deceased loved one, you can report the offence to the police. Slandering or defaming a deceased person may also constitute a criminal offence. The assessment of whether the offence is punishable is then based on whether something that offends a surviving close relative has been said about the deceased person.
If the death is discussed in the media, the family may view the surrounding publicity as problematic. The Guidelines for Journalists outline the ethically appropriate approach to a journalist's work. If you suspect that a media outlet has breached these guidelines, you can submit a complaint to the Council for Mass Media. It is not a court of law, but the media's self-regulating body, which makes decision to either acquit or indict a media outlet, and guides the field to act according to ethically sound practices.