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PSA tests 'frequently miss high-risk cases'

GPs are risking GMC misconduct charges because they are failing to complete medical reports for insurers properly, the BMA has warned.

The association said increasing numbers of GPs were printing off entire patient records instead of completing the standard forms.

The comments came as the BMA announced it had agreed an 8.9 per cent rise in fees for completing medical reports with the Association of British Insurers.

From July 2005, fees for GP reports rise to £70.50, supplementary reports to £18 and medical examinations to £77.50.

Dr Peter Holden, chair of the BMA professional fees committee, said GPs must complete the standard form, which should take half an hour, in order to justify the continued increase in the fees.

The number of GPs failing to do so was 'enough that the insurance industry is bleating', he said.

'It's a fair beef,' Dr Holden said. 'Insurance forms are there to synthesise important features from a record. It does not consist of pushing a button and regenerating everything.'

GPs did not have patient consent to give the entire record, he added. 'The GMC can have a go at you if you divulge information. It could be serious professional misconduct with all that goes with it.'

Dr Paul Colbrook, a med-icolegal adviser at the Medical Defence Union, said Good Medical Practice guidelines were clear that GPs should provide only the minimum information necessary for an

insurer and make sure they have informed consent from the patient.

If GPs were not clear what was required they should clarify with the insurer.

But GPs said they were often put in an impossible position by insurers who made vague requests or asked for swathes of information.

Dr Harry Yoxall, medical secretary at Somerset LMC, said: 'They ask what illnesses has a patient had. What else can we do but send them a lot of stuff? Only an underwriter knows what's relevant.'

He recommended GPs go through reports with a black marker pen before they are sent so sensitive information cannot be seen.

By Ian Cameron

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