Confidentiality, Medical Records & Consent
Doctors and staff maintain patient confidentiality at all times. Patient confidentiality is of the utmost importance and all members of staff work according to the guidelines issued to them at the commencement of their duties with the practice; they also sign a declaration of confidentiality. If a patient indicates they wish to speak in confidence to a staff member, then we will do our best to comply with that request.
Locked blue folderThe practice complies with data protection and access to medical records legislation. Identifiable information about you will be shared with others in the following circumstances:
- To provide further medical treatment for you e.g. from district nurses and hospital services.
- To help you get other services e.g. from the social work department. This requires your consent.
- When we have a duty to others e.g. in child protection cases anonymised patient information will also be used at local and national level to help the Health Board and Government plan services e.g. for diabetic care.
If you do not wish anonymous information about you to be used in such a way, please let us know.
Access to Records
In accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998 and Access to Health Records Act, patients may request to see their medical records. Such requests should be made through the practice manager and may be subject to an administration charge. No information will be released without the patient consent unless we are legally obliged to do so.
Where possible, a clinician must be satisfied that a patient understands and consents to a proposed treatment, immunisation or investigation. This will include the nature, purpose, and risks of the procedure, if necessary by the use of drawings, interpreters, videos or other means to ensure that the patient understands, and has enough information to give ‘Informed Consent’.
Implied consent will be assumed for many routine physical contacts with patients. Where implied consent is to be assumed by the clinician, in all cases, the following will apply:
- An explanation will be given to the patient what he / she is about to do, and why.
- The explanation will be sufficient for the patient to understand the procedure.
- In all cases where the patient is under 18 years of age a verbal confirmation of consent will be obtained and briefly entered into the medical record.
- Where there is a significant risk to the patient an “Expressed Consent” will be obtained in all cases (see below).
Expressed consent (written or verbal) will be obtained for any procedure which carries a risk that the patient is likely to consider as being substantial. A note will be made in the medical record detailing the discussion about the consent and the risks. A Consent Form may be used for the patient to express consent (see below).
Informed consent must be obtained prior to giving an immunisation. There is no legal requirement for consent to immunisation to be in writing and a signature on a consent form is not conclusive proof that consent has been given, but serves to record the decision and discussions that have taken place with the patient, or the person giving consent on a child’s behalf.
Consent for Children
Everyone aged 16 or more is presumed to be competent to give consent for themselves, unless the opposite is demonstrated. If a child under the age of 16 has “sufficient understanding and intelligence to enable him/her to understand fully what is proposed” (known as Gillick Competence), then he/she will be competent to give consent for him/herself. Young people aged 16 and 17, and legally ‘competent’ younger children, may therefore sign a Consent Form for themselves, but may like a parent to countersign as well.
For children under 16 (except for those who have Gillick Competence as noted above), someone with parental responsibility should give consent on the child’s behalf by signing accordingly on the Consent Form.
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