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GMC urges increased caution over release of medical records to solicitors

The General Medical Council (GMC) has issued updated guidelines (to come into force on 25 April 2017) providing a stricter and definitive means of determining whether or not to disclose confidential medical information.  The Guidance, which can be found here, contains eight principles of good practice in handling patient information and includes a requirement to ask for explicit consent to disclose indentifiable information about a patient and to only disclosure information that is relevant to the request made.

A flowchart provides a succinct tool to be used to determine whether or not disclosure is justified.

In determining whether or not to disclose personal information to a third party, such as a solicitor, the GMC advises that “you must not disclose personal information to a third party such as a solicitor, police officer or officer of a court without the patient’s explicit consent, unless it is required by law, or ordered by a court, or can be justified in the public interest. You may disclosure information without consent to your own legal adviser to get their advice”.

Dr Catherine Willis, the deputy head of advisory services of the Medical Defence Union (which provides indemnity to doctors) said “When faced with a police officer quoting the Data Protection Act, or a solicitor referring to a court order, it can be all too easy to assume confidential patient information can be passed on without consent. Confidentiality is central to the relationship of trust between patients and doctors.  Without assurances about confidentiality, patients may be reluctant to give doctors the information they need in order to provide good care”.

Click here to find out how Brett Wilson LLP privacy solicitors can help you if your medical information has been disclosed without your consent. 


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Articles are intended as an introduction to the topic and do not constitute legal advice.