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Health records & confidentiality - who has access?

(22 Posts)
YouthsAStuffWillNotEndure Thu 02-Nov-17 17:06:40

Our daughter has been suffering from anorexia for the last 4 years.
I have a friend who is a GP and from time to time he asks how my daughter is. Recently when doing so he let slip a detail which I felt he could not possibly have known without access to my daughter's medical records. My GP friend has never been my daughter's doctor. Is it nevertheless possible for him to have read her medical notes? Does the NHS computer system allow ANY doctor to read ANY patient's notes? Or only the notes of those for whom they have clinical responsibility?

NolongerAnxiousCarer Fri 03-Nov-17 19:30:16

HPC here, it may be possible for him to access your daughters records depending on which systems are used, but it is illegal to access the medical records of someone who is not under your care. There are random checks (accessing computerised records leaves a trail) and I am aware of people being sacked/disciplined for accessing records they did not need to (eg to get someones address to send them a get well card). A complaint to his practice manager about your concerns should be taken very seriously.

giggly Fri 03-Nov-17 19:38:26

Could it be likely that what they said was more an educated guess or expectation of similar symptoms or presentations? Many patients present with similar histories etc.
As a nurse I have access to any patient presenting to any hospital within my trust area. That would include access to clinical records /referrals etc.
However as pp states there is often audits of who accesses who.

YouthsAStuffWillNotEndure Sat 04-Nov-17 01:06:25

Thank you NoLongerAnxiousCarer - your first sentence is as I suspected ie possible but definitely not legal and therefore presumably frowned upon as highly unprofessional conduct?

No, giggly, it was quite a personal detail, not at all guessable, which I am pretty sure I had never mentioned to him as I try to respond to kind enquiries about my daughter in general, rather than specific terms, in order to respect her privacy.

YouthsAStuffWillNotEndure Sat 04-Nov-17 01:13:41

giggly: you mention having access to any patient/hospital within your trust area - in fact he works in a different trust from the one in which my daughter has been treated, so does that mean it would NOT have been possible?

Thetoothyteeth Sat 04-Nov-17 01:21:17

I'd also love to know the answer to this. It seems really vague. Do doctors search by name, date of birth? Do private and nhs surgeries / consults show on nhs systems? Could someone who knows you search for you and find everything if they wanted to take the risk? I've never got a straight answer from anyone about this

YouthsAStuffWillNotEndure Sat 04-Nov-17 01:33:25

Yes Thetoothyteeth the idea of it has always bothered me too, even before this incident

Thetoothyteeth Sat 04-Nov-17 11:59:08

No answers on mn that are clear either, whenever i meet someone / work with someone in the medical profession i wonder what they know. It's bizarre that WE don't know - i asked my gp and was fobbed off. Highly irritating.

SuccessStory Sat 04-Nov-17 12:07:46

Patients have ceased being registered with a specific GP for years. Patients are registered with a practice which means ANY Doctor within the Practice can access your records. This is on the back of the policy you are guaranteed an appointment within (I think it’s 24hrs?) with any GP within your Practice but not with a named GP. If your GP friend is not from within your Practice then one could question why he was looking at your dd’s records.

NolongerAnxiousCarer Sat 04-Nov-17 12:37:36

I can access some info from other trust areas (we sometimes have patients from out of area) if their GP is on the same system we use and the patient has agreed to data sharing accross organisations. If they have not agreed to this I can't access it. You could check this with your GP surgery if you are concerned.

Noimbrianfromhull Sat 04-Nov-17 13:05:32

I can only access MH records within my trust, if we have some move from another MH trust we have to request their notes as we can't access them.

I can only access MH records, not general hospitals or GPs.

Jasminedes Sat 04-Nov-17 13:09:35

If someone is not on my teams caselaod currently, but has been in the past, I have to input a reason for accessing notes. If you suspect someone has been accessing without clinical need, the IT team can run specific checks on who has accessed your daughters notes and audit. Don't discount that it could be old fashioned gossip between GPs, or clinical discussions they should have absented themself from because they know you.

YouthsAStuffWillNotEndure Sat 04-Nov-17 15:41:50

Thanks everyone for all your responses which make it seem unlikely he has seen her records, as he is in a different trust and would have none of the justifiable reasons you mention to request access. And if it is in other circumstances illegal/unprofessional to do so, he would be risking a lot just to satisfy idle curiosity! I still feel uneasy though as I can't explain it....

Thetoothyteeth Sat 04-Nov-17 15:43:19

Does every single area use a different system then? Different database / IT system? Seems very hazy all the different things and different conditions surrounding what can and can't be accessed.

NolongerAnxiousCarer Sat 04-Nov-17 18:55:38

Our local hospital uses one system, the mental health trust uses a different one and different GP practices and community teams use other different ones. They don't all talk to each other, which is crazy really, but it just depends which system best meets their needs and of course the cost!

Thinkingofausername1 Sat 04-Nov-17 19:00:14

I understand how you feel. Several friends work at my surgery and I always wonder if they have gone through my notes. It makes me feel slightly uncomfortable but, I’m happy with my gp’s there. Try not to dwell on it too much, could he have just been in work mode?

Sukistinks Wed 08-Nov-17 00:09:40

A relative of mine read my notes for years and didn't realise it was not allowed until I mentioned it to a practice nurse.

She was disciplined but I know she has read her kids, grandkids, parents, cousins and friends too. I once witnessed her checking a relatives blood and brain MRI results (she is a ward sister; I was visiting our relative and we had a cuppa in her office).

I don't know if they found out that she read so many other family members notes or just checked on my notes and wonder if I should report it. It's awful not knowing what to do.

NolongerAnxiousCarer Wed 08-Nov-17 20:56:44

Suki believe me there is no way your relative could not know this is not allowed, appart from being part of your training it is covered in mandatory training updates on data protection which have to be completed once per year. Personally I would report this as its disgusting behaviour.

Sukistinks Thu 09-Nov-17 23:08:08

nolonger sorry I think I explained wrong. It was ME who didn't realise it wasn't allowed, my GP told me that she would definitely have knowm, particularly with being a Sister and mentor. I know she has been disciplined at least once, for accessing my records, but I am certain that if the trust knew the extent she may not have a job for much longer. The reason I don't know whether to report or not is because I would feel incredibly guilty of she lost her job and pension etc. My children said report her, I haven't done anything to feel guilty about.

NolongerAnxiousCarer Fri 10-Nov-17 00:46:53

Ah I misunderstood. You definately have nothing to feel guilty about, she knows full well the risk she is taking. It can be tempting but I would never risk even accessing my own records, it's not worth my career. And as you know she is accessing other peoples records too who knows how many peoples confidentiality she has breached over the years.

Sukistinks Fri 10-Nov-17 16:53:18

Thank you for replying, it's been quite stressful. I think I will mention it to my GP again.

NolongerAnxiousCarer Fri 10-Nov-17 20:35:59

You can also speak to PALS for the NHS trust she works for they deal with complaints.

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