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Colleges issue legal guidance on trainee e-portfolios

The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges has issued detailed guidance on recording reflective notes in e-portfolios after trainees said they were receiving ‘conflicting and confusing’ advice.

The move follows a legal case in which a trainee’s ‘written reflections’ on an incident in their training development portfolio was used against them.

The Academy points out that concerns have been raised by trainees on how they should write reflective notes on e-portfolios in order to avoid a circumstance under which they may have to release them to a third party.

‘Trainees suggest they are receiving conflicting and confusing advice filtering down from different sources,’ said the guidance.

The Academy’s new legal guidance on the disclosure of information on e-portfolios to third parties includes:

  • Anonymising patients as far as possible in self-reflective logs, not referring to names, dates of births, addresses or any unique condition or circumstances (other practitioners, parents and staff should not be readily identifiable)
  • If a Subject Access Request is made and if it is established that the information within the log is a patient’s personal data, it can be argued that a doctor’s self-reflective log is exempt from disclosure under the Data Protection Act 1998
  • If a request for disclosure is made in the context of litigation, trainees could request that a court order is made as it contains personal data belonging to a third party

The Joint Academy Training Forum has formally considered the guidance.



Readers' comments (15)

  • In other words, you can write stuff, try and block it in court, lose and then get hung out to dry. Make it all up in your portfolios and problem solved, it is only a box ticking exercise (most of it is a complete waste of time anyway - I suppose it prepares for appraisal....)

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  • never write anything that is negative about you. if it is negative about your organisation ensure you have documented raising concerns.
    Look after yourself, no matter what the cardigans say

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  • I would highly question the validity and safety of ongoing use of ePortfolio reflection in light of this case, let alone it being an integral and mandatory part of the MRCGP qualification - the RCGP are essentially handing out rope to tie around our necks, charging us for the privilege and then looking shocked when we happen to hang ourselves.

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  • RCGP is the worst royal college :more concerned about its existence!!!

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  • Stick to trivia. My cologne gave patient rhinitis. Made me more aware of how my dress and grooming might impact on consultation and colleagues. Do little audit on smells in the surgery. Cardies will love. Stay away from anything real

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  • Only write up signifiant events that are about practice processes. Never ever reflect on a case that has gone wrong. This a direct result of all the jeopardies that we are subject to. Err on the side of caution in this as in all other matters. Don't think that this advice is hysterical.

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  • I think it's not a bad idea to reflect on things when it went wrong, but spin it to put in your side of the story so that if the patient comes after you, you have some evidence to protect yourself with e.g. 'There was an incident systems and processes went wrong it was discussed at practice level we all learnt something new, we have new systems in place so it will never happen again but realistically it will happen again...' but for crying out loud don't just say 'I was at fault and next time I'll do better' you might as well lube up and bend over from the start. If in doubt speak to your indemnity provider what do we pay them a fortune for?

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  • Constructive reflection is the norm with your usual work described in a way that "you saved that day or future days"

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  • 'can be argued,
    'could request'
    Its not black and white is it?
    Why not just stop doing them till there is absolute clarity? Or let the Royal College of Cardigans pick up the damages until it is?

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  • " it can be argued that a doctor’s self-reflective log is exempt from disclosure under the Data Protection Act 1998".

    Well I suppose anything can be argued (for money, by a lawyer) but this seems a pretty useless piece of advice. Which exemption from release does the AMRC think might apply here?

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