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GPs warned over remarks in medical notes

GPs could face a surge of compensation claims from patients for having inappropriate remarks logged in their medical notes, medical defence bodies have warned.

The warning follows media reports that a woman is to sue the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery in London under the Data Protection Act 2000 for having errors in her medical records. She claimed specialists at the hospital described her in her medical notes as 'a source of trouble' and 'hysterical', according to The Times.

Dr Gerard Panting, head of policy at the Medical Protection Society, warned that the Data Protection Act would almost certainly lead to similar cases against GPs. 'A medical record needs to be an objective account of that individual's mental and physical state ­ it's no place for a doctor to let off steam,' he said.

He added inappropriate information could be removed provided continuity of care was not compromised.

Dr Hugh Stewart, med-icolegal adviser at the Medical Defence Union, said: 'In some circumstances, if a patient suffered damage or distress from inaccurate data, compensation could be awarded.

'If it's an opinion you made in good faith at the time we would not advise to remove it. You could include a patient's view alongside it.'

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