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Proceed slowly on patient record access and evaluate risk of coercion, experts warn

Giving patients access to their GP records online should be implemented slowly, with full evaluation of potential risks posed by vulnerable patients being coerced into sharing with third parties, experts have said.

The British Journal of General Practice’s editorial this week states that online record access is likely to have a ‘transformative effect’ on general practice, as well as the way that GPs use their record.

Of particular concern is ‘coercion’ or information leakage within households, for example where a patient has experienced domestic abuse, or where a parent might pressure their child to share their record – though automatic access for parents will stop at age 12.

This could make patients reluctant to share information, and equally make the GP less likely to record sensitive information thus diminishing the benefits of the record and patient care.

One author Professor Gene Feder, a GP and professor of primary care at Bristol’s Centre for Academic Primary Care, said: ‘Coercion may result from overt threats or physical force in an abusive relationship or may appear under the guise of helping a vulnerable relative, especially older people or those with learning disabilities.’

But the access ‘juggernaut’ is now too big to be stopped, the editorial states, with the Government pledging full access and the ability to comment on their GP record by 2018.

The editorial states: ‘For those currently implementing online access, we suggest keeping it simple and limiting online access to recent information which has clear medical utility; such as test results, referral letters, clinic letters, current medication, and allergies.’

Readers' comments (7)

  • Good job I am going to be out of here by 2018. Having just had to add to a record 7 pages of lengthy "notes" written by a patient unhappy with a decade worth of consultations, unfettered patient access is going to be a potential source of work and a lot of headaches. Patients nitpicking every little discrepancy or perceived error.

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  • Most people just don't care about this.

    The ones that do I don't really want as patients as they are a certain type.

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  • Notes access is a time bomb. The solicitors are salivating.

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  • Yet another legal and bureaucratic nightmare and time-guzzler foisted on us by a Govt that hasn't got a clue and a BMA that stands up to nothing but bends over and takes it.

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  • Thank god I ill be gone before this is going to be implemented. I'm only 51 so plenty of GP time lost just from me.

    As if our working lives weren't hard enough already.

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  • @GP registrar | 29 May 2015 3:46pm

    GPs complain endlessly that patients don't take responsibility for their health. Yet those like yourself seem to be trying their hardest to restrict patients from having the tools to manage their own health.

    The sooner the government's policy is implemented, the better for patients.

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  • 3:46

    Give yourself a few more years in practice and you will appreciate why the old sweats do not think this is a good idea.

    We do not have the manpower to deal with all the fallout.

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