Good practice in handling patient information
I am starting off on a rant.
It used to be whatever you said to your GP would not be repeated to anyone else, unless it warranted it, such as if the person was in some way in danger of harming themselves or if they needed medical care and support.
However as times have changed with information being passed around on the internet and emails being hacked, there was no secure way of sending an email to this particular surgery which is concerning in itself.
Apparently and this in particular aimed at my own GP, so cannot vouch for any other surgeries, that whatever you told your doctor, could also be accessed by other staff at the surgery. But in my case, my data was accessed by the adjoining pharmacy inside the building of the surgery.
I am all for data security and privacy and what I choose to share online about my illnesses may not be necessarily be everything I want to divulge publicly, hence may keep some information private, but obviously, as I have found out two people have now gained access to my letter and I have not had a response back from the doctor, which is very alarming.
So my question is does the Doctor actually know the letter exists or do I just have the word from the practice manager? What if my letter was printed off and passed around I have no guarantee that it wasn’t?
However, I was due a medication follow-up review today and although I had emailed the Doctor directly on the 25th of May 2021 I later found out this particular doctor is no longer at the practice and I had to forward my email to the practice manager on the 27th.
The practice manager acknowledged the email and said that I needed to make an appointment with my GP over certain things I had written in the letter. The practice manager also told me over the phone that my medical data can be accessed by all the staff in the surgery but to not worry as they had all signed non-disclosure agreements. 🤢
What a 🐊 of💩 so you are telling me that someone could read this information and then go home and repeat it to their friends/partner or spouse? A nondisclosure agreement is not worth the paper it is written on as there are no guarantees that your information will not be shared. A person could simply say I read this about a certain individual and there would be absolutely no proof that the said person did or did not share the information. There are absolutely no guarantees whats so ever that what is written would not be repeated or talked about during the lunch breaks or pillow talk.
To think that the surgery thinks people are stupid or gullible is beyond belief that they would be sucked into their garbage of an excuse that all staff at the surgery can gain access to your medical records, but cannot disclose any information because of non-disclosure agreement they had signed.🤬😡 Talk to the hand ✋.
What if a patient had some embarrassing ailment (I am not talking about myself btw) 😂🤣 (seriously though it is not a laughing matter) and was riddled with STD’s and everyone in the surgery including the pharmacist got to read their medical notes?
The principle of the matter is unprofessional and unethical. The patient should not have to be forced to tell the receptionist what is wrong with them as in the case of this particular surgery.
According to best practices but this is for England and not Wales only the bare minimum should be accessed but the pharmacist today confirmed she had read my letter which I quote her saying “it was very thorough and detailed and that is what they prefer”.
She asked about my medication and told me to take it at regular intervals. One of the prescription drugs is a sleeping tablet and within 30 minutes I am zonked out, so if I took it at regular times it would interfere with my life because I cannot go to sleep every night at an exact time.
This was going over her head and she was not interested in anything I had to say. She was trying to teach me to how to suck eggs as if I needed a 30-year-old to tell me what to do and in the ideal world where I did not have such an unpredictable job, I would possibly be a good girl and go to sleep the same time every night, but my lifestyle does not permit me. I even told her my job is not a 9 to 5 and sometimes I could be working at 3 am in the morning.
Now wait for this, I said, considering she had read my letter what did she suggest about this one problem I had and this is laughable by her response, she only told me to phone the GP. 😡
Although my time could be better spent than phoning and then waiting on someone to get back to me, I will be phoning the GP just so that I can speak to them for comment and get to the bottom of how my medical records have been shared.
So tell me if I had written a letter nearly a month ago to the GP you would think the Doctor(s) would have the decency to reply. Their lame excuse will be they are too busy to respond to emails.
I get a thousand plus emails a day and still find time to respond.
I think it is downright rude and unprofessional to ignore a letter that every tom dick and harry has read but does not get a response from the doctor to which the letter was addressed in the first place.
So what the hell was the reason for the pharmacist to access my medical records to ask if me if I smoke or take alcohol and then not give me any advice at all, what a waste of time and resources and my time (which not relevant in the eyes of the NHS, they can waste your time but you cannot waste theirs).
She then said she would book me in for another annual review, why though? If they get email updates from me why speak to me?
I responded unless there was anything I needed I would be perfectly capable to email or phone the GP myself and did not need an annual review (omitting the part that her phone call was a waste of my precious time).
I am fuming how my medical file has no privacy protection. 🤬😡
I have mentioned this surgery before on a marketing blog I also run and have been told if I make waves I could be struck off their register yet I depend on my medication.
They also have said to me that they (the NHS) quote “do not have an obligation to help me if they do not want to”.
So if you are savvy to know about my other blog just search for GP Surgery Cardiff. Sorry, no links given.
Confidentiality is not absolute
Confidentiality is an important ethical and legal duty for doctors, however, it is not guaranteed and is not absolute. Your doctor may be able to disclose personal information without breaching his/her duties of confidentiality under certain circumstances, such as when the disclosure is of overall benefit to a patient who lacks the capacity to consent.
Patient confidentiality can be defined as: ‘The law whereby a doctor or medical practitioner cannot reveal anything said to them by their patients during consultation or treatment.”
Confidentiality is something that is protected, by law, by a myriad of legislation including the Data Protection Act 1998, The Computer Misuse Act 1990and The NHS Confidentiality Code of Practice.
Protecting Your Information Your Choice
(This is applicable for England NOT Wales).
How to Complain
Your first port of call should be to complain to the GP practice, you should send them a recorded signed for formal letter or email, failing that you have three options as in the links below, but in my experience of other things I have complained about in the past you run the risk of being removed from the surgery and their response is very biased as they will protect themselves, so do take this into consideration and always have another surgery lined up just in case of the worst-case scenario, remember also if you get kicked out of your surgery another surgery may not accept you based on how much trouble you make, as surgery (a) may put notes for surgery (b) to read, hence it is good practice to also request all your data from surgery (a) before approaching surgery (b).
#patient #patientdoctorconfidentiality #medicalrecords #gdpr #ico #medicalrecordsbreach
The Editor Suffers From OCD & Cerebellar Atrophy. She is an Entrepreneur & Published Author, she writes content on a range of topics, including politics, current affairs, health and business. She is an advocate for Mental Health, Human Rights & Disability Discrimination.
Whilst her disabilities can be challenging she has adapted her life around her health and documents her journey online.
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