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Practice dilemma: School request for information

A primary school contacts your practice wanting to know if you can confirm a mother’s explanation that her son has repeatedly been off from school due to health issues. What should you do? Our legal expert advises.

Your practice knows the boy has not attended any appointment recently, but should not give the school this information.

Doctors cannot usually or normally disclose any patient information without first getting the patient’s consent, or in this case, consent from a parent.

The school may argue the information relates to their concerns over the child’s welfare, but your practice is bound by strict confidentiality rules and cannot release any information without permission.

Only in serious cases, where you believed the child is a victim of neglect or abuse and is unable to consent to disclosure, could you consider releasing this information without consent.

Dr Gail Gilmartin is a senior medical adviser at the Medical and Dental Defence Union of Scotland

Practice dilemma: School request for information