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LMC warning after GPs submit blood samples under false names

Wessex LMC has given a ‘gentle reminder’ to GPs not to investigate themselves or a family member not registered at their practice, after a local hospital found doctors had sent in blood samples for testing under false names.

The warning to practices, which featured in Wessex LMC’s December newsletter, comes after a local hospital was left scratching its head when names accompanying blood samples sent in for testing did not match those for any patients on GP practice lists.

On further investigation, the hospital found that one GP and one hospital doctor had requested tests to be carried out on their own bloods, supplying a false name. It also found that on other occasions GPs had requested blood testing on behalf of family members who were not on their practice lists.

Wessex LMC chair Dr Nigel Watson warned doctors that under GMC regulations they should not be investigating themselves, and warned that using a false name was a ‘serious issue of probity’.

He wrote to GPs: ‘One of our local hospitals has received a small number of requests for blood tests, which could not be matched with a practice’s registered population.

‘On further investigation several tests turned out to be doctors requesting blood tests on themselves and using false names and on other occasions, doctors requesting blood tests on a family member who were not registered with that practice.’

‘I am sure that I do not need to remind you of your obligations as detailed by the GMC. You should not be investigating yourself and using a false name is a serious issue of probity. In terms of your family you should follow the GMC guidelines which would suggest that a GP should not be investigating or treating their own family members, unless there are exceptional circumstances.’

Commenting on the issue to Pulse, he said: ‘It was identified in one hospital so it was fairly isolated, but it was just a reminder to GPs, and actually hospital doctors as well, because the examples they saw were actually identified as a hospital doctor and a GP.’

He said different GPs had submitted the blood for family members, adding: ‘They think they have very good reasons, which blur the boundary between family and work.’

‘They think it is easier if I sort this instead of going to the GP, but the GMC’s guidance is actually very clear on this, and this was just a gentle reminder that they keep those boundaries in place.

‘You occasionally get stories with the GMC where doctors have treated a family member and this person is much more seriously ill than you think, and some adverse thing happens. That is why they say you should not treat family members, unless it is an emergency situation.’

The doctors implicated have not been named by the hospital and are not facing any regulatory warnings or procedures.

The GMC said it expects all doctors to adhere to regulations as outlined in Good Medical Practice.

 

The GMC’s Good Medical Practice guide states that:

  • You must do your best to make sure that any documents you write or sign are not false or misleading.
  • Probity means being honest and trustworthy, and acting with integrity: this is at the heart of medical professionalism. You must make sure that your conduct at all times justifies your patients’ trust in you and the public’s trust in the profession.
  • Wherever possible, you should avoid providing medical care to anyone with whom you have a close personal relationship.
  • You should be registered with a general practitioner outside your family to ensure that you have access to independent and objective medical care. You should not treat yourself.

 

 

Readers' comments (12)

  • Another reason it is done is as I know from colleagues whom I treat who want to know their own results when they phone lab - but hospitals won't provide them if the doctor is actually the patient, despite this probably being in breach of the data protection act re access to own medical records.

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  • Mark Struthers

    Honesty is always the best policy. Why do doctors have to be reminded of this?

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  • Another issue if a patient asked for a blood test/swab in a different name as their relative worked in Pathology this presumably would be blocked too?

    When I was student radiographer many years ago one of girls on my course had this issue. Her Mum worked at local Path Lab so her GP ran any tests in a false name.

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  • A furtrher thought does anyone know how this effects temporary residents or emergency patients? Do they have to be permeanantly registered to have any urgent bloods/swabs done?

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  • Although I generally agree with the GMC that submitting your own samples may be unwise, the GMCs own guidelines break many ethical principles. This regulation denies doctors autonomy, the opportunity to benefit themselves with fairly low risk to others and equality of treatment given the problems maintaining confidentiality in a tight knit community. A nuanced and proportional stance would be much more appropriate here.

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  • No one seems to have thought of the obvious potential for fraudulant insurance applications here - eg I suspect that I may be developing diabetes, - I confirm it on a blood test, treat myself on the quiet to hide everything, then get on & buy a large amount of life/permanent health insurance before eventually coming clean & seeing my own Dr.

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  • Is this not fraud?

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  • Another motive, if you apply for travel insurance they will require a health declaration and then load or refuse cover if you are awiting any test results... so all the same applies as the above post in terms of obtaining cover for your holiday.

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  • Can You send request for your own blood test for occupational testing ,
    Is any one know what GMC guiding to having bloods for like Hepatitis And Rubella Antibody testing in you own Practice by Colleagues???
    Can any one comments ??

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  • Doctors are using false names because of the foolish restrictions placed by the GMC. these restrictions are demeaning and make doctors feel they are always under surveillance and suspicion. notice how all drs on this board are posting anonymously?? The GMC is responsible for this climate of fear.

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