Search Our Collections

Clinical Case Notes

LHSA holds just over 100 collections of twentieth-century folder-based patient case notes (comprising in total approximately 1 million individual case notes).  The majority of them relate to the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, but other hospitals are represented.  As a whole, the collections cover a wide variety of medical specialties and were produced by numerous practitioners. 

As the collections date from within the last 100 years, strict restictions on access apply, however, there are procedures in place to allow access to these records for research purposes.  Under appropriate access conditions, LHSA actively promotes research into these collections, and special facilities can be made available to assist in the intensive use of large numbers of case notes.

Case notes contain a surprising number of documents relating to patient care, as well as pro-forma record sheets and patient-doctor correspondence, they can also include lab reports, X-rays, photographs and other visual representations.  Some of the collections are held on microfilms, created by the hospitals themselves, prior to disposing of the paper originals.

Case notes can be difficult and time-consuming to use, and great care must be taken when handling them, however, they are an extraordinarily rich primary archival source relevant to a variety of historical, social, scientific and medical disciplines.  Many case notes have significant links to other LHSA records, for example general registers of patients, ward and operations books and bound case notes.  LHSA staff can assist you in establishing these links.

LHSA has managed a number of projects focussing on improving access to case note collections.  For more information, consult our Projects pages.