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Your Medical Records

By: Anna Hinds BA (hons) - Updated: 8 Jul 2018 | comments*Discuss
 
Medical Records Patient Privacy Medical

What do your medical records say about you? Who sees them? How are they shared? Are they open to misuse? From typing errors to lax security even the smallest slip-up could result in the inadvertent abuse of your records. And the government’s new scheme to digitalise medical records is causing widespread concern. Should you be worried?

Your Medical Records

The NHS is launching a controversial new scheme this year, intending to upload its entire patient database to a central electronic system called ‘Spine’. Patients will be offered the chance to opt-out of the database, although ministers are hoping that to put an end to prehistoric paper systems. The new system will make your medical records available to thousands of medical staff.

Why the controversy? Well, the Information Commissioner last year stated that more than 300 journalists had obtained private information from government records – due to poor security and insignificant penalties. Campaigners are concerned that the government will not put enough security in place, and the privacy of around 50 million patients could be undermined. They’re also concerned about errors in patient records, after a local councillor discovered that she had been labelled an alcoholic – a simple typing mistake.

Who can View my Medical Records?

The main benefit of the new NHS database is that it will enable paramedics and hospital staff to access your medical information in an emergency. This is thought to be especially beneficial for the elderly, who may not have close family on-hand.

Other people can view your records, too. Insurers can view your medical records if you’re applying for Critical Illness insurance – if they contain something you haven’t disclosed, your policy could be void. The police can apply for a court order to get access to your medical records if they have due cause to do so. If information on your medical records is believed to be important to the general public’s safety, then a court will give permission.

Medical Records - Your Rights

Patients have a right to see all records held on them (Data Protection Act, 1998). However, medical professionals are entitled to withhold your medical records if:

  • They contain information that might cause harm to you

  • They contain information about a third party (this can be removed)

  • You are applying for someone else’s records (unless you have a letter of consent).

Your medical records are held at your GP’s surgery, which will usually allow you to read them if you ask politely. If there is a problem then you can make an official request in writing, which your surgery or hospital is obliged to answer within 40 days. And if there is a further problem with this, you can complain – first to the NHS (ask for their complaint leaflet), then to the Health Ombudsman, and finally to the Information Commissioner.

When the ‘Spine’ system is rolled out across the UK, patients will receive written notification. You will be given eight weeks to respond to the letter. You can take one of four actions:

  1. Permit your records to be uploaded (there is no need to write).

  2. Object to the uploading of your records.

  3. Place restrictions on the people who are able to view them (i.e. GPs and nurses).

  4. Place restrictions on the information which is uploaded (i.e. you can ask for details such as abortion or HIV tests to be removed).

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    Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
    @cindy - I don't think they're going to read 'all' your records - they don't have time between patients. It's up to you to fill in the details - I imagine the doc just gives your records a quick glance.
    Laurie - 9-Jul-18 @ 9:41 AM
    on recent visit too my doctor he did blood test then wanted another one for the menopause all in my records i went through early menopause in my late 30s does doctor never read any of your file before they see you,never get regular doctor
    cindy - 8-Jul-18 @ 7:14 AM
    Sorry if we're going over old ground here; I have been with the same private opticians since the mid 70's. The owner recently sold the business and I have swapped to a new optician. I have requested a copy of my full history from the new owners of my original opticians. They have refused and said that they are not legally obliged to do this; all they are prepared to send me is a copy of my latest prescription. Is this the case? (surely not). They said that they could pass them on to my new optician. They also said that it would be meaningless to me as i am not medically trained (which is true but rather patronising). How do I get them to send me a copy of my records?
    Ferrety - 4-Jul-18 @ 11:19 AM
    @Lea - I don't think she can without permission.
    Oggui - 25-Jun-18 @ 2:09 PM
    I have a friend who work's behind the desk at my surgery. Can she look through my medical history? As it is confidential and even though she is my friend I wouldn't like to think she can look through my files.
    Lea - 23-Jun-18 @ 10:33 PM
    I recently applied for a life insurance policy through a broker with zurich life.The broker was adamant that when i signed the form access to medical report that I tick the box I do NOTwish to see the report before it is returned to zurich as this delays proceedings but due to my GP getting my records wrong in the past Iinsisted that I see the report before it is sent to zurich. I ticked the box I DO want to see the report before it is returned to zurich. This morning I receive a call from the broker saying that zurich has declined my policy based on the medical report they have received. At NO time has the GP ever consulted me about the report or made any attempt to show me the report despite my clear instructions. I feel disgusted at this and an invasion of privacy and at a minimum a breach of the data protection act. I am about to seek legal advice before I go to the expense of a solicitor I just wondered if anyone had any views ?. Many thanks Jamie
    jacali458 - 22-Jun-18 @ 12:27 PM
    @judo - I think if the court orders it in a child access case then social services can hand information to the courts. Don't know if that is relevant or helps you at all.
    BeckZ - 16-Apr-18 @ 2:30 PM
    Our daughter in law sent us some doctors letters trying to prove she had lupus but in fact they proved otherwise now she is saying they are confidentialand we have to delete Them or she will get us in trouble is this possible
    Lee - 15-Apr-18 @ 12:25 AM
    social service have got hold of my medical records without my consent have they broken the law by ding this there is nothing bad on them but im not happy they can find out things about me i told my doctor
    judo - 14-Apr-18 @ 11:53 AM
    @Xt4mv - only if your ex is given permission to retrieve your records could he. Anyone who accesses records is logged. Massively sackable offence and more.
    EllieU - 9-Feb-18 @ 12:29 PM
    My abusive ex boyfriend is a paramedic. We split up years ago but I’m concerned that he could access my medical records and find out my address and private information. Is this possible?
    Xt4mv - 6-Feb-18 @ 6:09 PM
    Can a private doctor that I made a appointment with get my medical records from another Dr without? my consent.
    Spot - 8-Jan-18 @ 10:14 PM
    Anny - Your Question:
    My boyfriend is a nhs dentist working in another town and he knows a lot of other NHS professionals, he made a statement the other day about being able to access my medical records. Can he do that without my consent or in any other way?

    Our Response:
    Health records are confidential so you can only access someone else's records if you’re authorised to do so. To access someone else's health records, you must: be acting on their behalf with their consent, or have legal authority to make decisions on their behalf (power of attorney), or have another legal basis for access, please see NHS link here , which will tell you all you need to know.
    YourPrivacy - 19-Dec-17 @ 9:47 AM
    My boyfriend is a nhs dentist working in another town and he knows a lot of other NHS professionals, he made a statement the other day about being able to access my medical records. Can he do that without my consent or in any other way?
    Anny - 18-Dec-17 @ 8:04 AM
    @JP - Much depends upon what your landlord wants your medical records for. As a rule your landlord cannot ask your GP for a medical report on you without your knowledge and consent. You do not have to give your consent. If you do agree, you can ask to see the doctor’s report before it is sent to your landlord. Complain directly to your landlord first - they should have a complaints policy that you can follow.
    JimM - 4-Dec-17 @ 3:40 PM
    Two years ago I rented a property through a letting agent, two years on the owner has asked me to go to my doctor and provide him with my medical records. Where does the law stand on this and to whom do I makecomplaint?
    JP - 4-Dec-17 @ 8:16 AM
    Hi my partner and her friend was booked to go on holiday in August. She was lead passenger, she was unfortunate enough to catch meningitis, she was lead passenger and her insurance has paid out but her friends insurance has requested my partners medical records, saying that the consultants and discharge notes are not good enough is this correct. Thanks in advance
    rick - 18-Oct-17 @ 4:14 PM
    @Niggle - it was a mistake, give the NHS a break. Are you really trying to find a way to sue when you get such amazing treatment for free....
    MikeVF - 14-Sep-17 @ 3:28 PM
    I had an instance where I was sent for an MRI because of incorrect information stored on my patient record.All other details on my record were correct when checked by the nurse at the MRI centre, however, there was an additional entry on my record that does not belong to me and was the reason I had been called in.It just so happens I am in need of various scans for various ailments that the request for an MRI wasn't out of the blue for me, but the reason, it seemed was completely incorrect.Have the NHS crossed any legal boundaries regarding my patient record/data protection?
    Niggle - 12-Sep-17 @ 3:10 PM
    I was recently at a meeting in regards to my children being put on child protection! No harm has ever came to the children and it's basically just due to 1 of my sons dads being abusive/violent towards me! He is now however behind bars! Moving on....when I was at the meeting about the future for the boys which included school nurse/headmistress/social worker/police/chairman/health visitor and gps receptionist...my medical records were blurted out for all to hear! Including appointments id missed dating back to 2008!!! Not that I had anything to hide but if I did have some sort of problem that I didn't want the world to hear I'm sure that would have been blurted out!? I became extremely angry and irate! I had never been asked for my medical records to be looked into and if I was I asked I would have given consent but it's the principal of it and also I find it a flaw in the system! Do I have any rights? Where these people allowed to do this?
    Lesley - 5-Sep-17 @ 8:25 PM
    Hi, I have medical records that have been falsified and changed. I have now seen the EMIS audit trail which shows up a lot of Anonymous and AUTO log in's and deletes. and the wrong Gp name logged in also. How can someone Anonymous enter details and delete them? Along with the Gp logging in at 11pm and midnight to enter/change records?
    suzyq - 26-Aug-17 @ 1:56 PM
    I recently had to see my company Doctor who asked me to sign a consent release form for my records held within my company, He did not give me a reason why I should sign it, this has happened several times in the course of visits my company has asked me to attend. With this Doctor. Is this legal? Further more, l recently had suspicions that surgery visits within the company were being relayed to the personnel department without my concent. This being evident after I was sent home for high blood pressure and the next day a news letter Was put out within the factory about blood pressure! I raised this with the company GP the next time I saw him Can he raise this with the company without my permission?
    Kipper - 22-Aug-17 @ 2:04 AM
    Can my ex who has a daughter who is a nurse look at my medical records
    Lizzy - 7-Jun-17 @ 12:33 PM
    @Jennie - sounds like a mistake has been made somewhere along the line - but what that mistake is, is anyone's guess.
    Matt - 26-May-17 @ 2:24 PM
    Hi just had a phone call from my doctors saying there has been an admistration problem with my records anyone know what that means please?
    Jennie - 26-May-17 @ 12:35 PM
    I mentiond paris jackson was on twitter with madonna making comments encouraging uni students to stalk me in public and tried to report a man i use to know. The police detained me for that and silenced me. Months later I found out somebody had paid a gp or admin to tamper with my nhs records with fake diagnoses iv never been diagnosed with and even with the correct they are refusing to have it removed. Ironically my family have agreed people like madona and paris are mentally unstble, one slit her wrist and was sectioned for 4 months and well read a womans blog called Aisha she was terrorized by madonna and her kabala sect. I dont care about celebrities i tried to report an ashole i use to know encouraging others online to harass me and I get my life wrecked
    Natalie - 6-May-17 @ 8:29 AM
    I called the ambulance to commit my friend who is incredibly unwell. The cop asked my mom if I'm taking my medication. Can cops find my records when I'm telling them to send my schizophrenic friend to the psych ward?
    Dolly - 13-Mar-17 @ 8:08 AM
    Ive just recieved a letter via my solicitor stating i was dianosed with a dissorder which i never saw a doctor about and also it says i had domestic violence in 2010 when i was single and moved too. how do i have this changed.
    nevergiveup77 - 26-Feb-17 @ 4:17 PM
    so how come my motor insurers have access yo my medicalrecords and know more about my health than I do ... I've not knowingly given consent for this...or is consent now secretly hidden away in the terms and conditions. How come the CUE database has info about me and my medical history. Is the 'spine' system up and going allowing various parties including the police to access my medical records without my or gp consent or is my gp team lying to me when they say they havent given out my information?
    grumpy - 18-Feb-17 @ 12:30 PM
    @protector - a court would be able to request them, but your ex can't personally. For instance if hypothetically you had a drug or alcohol problem and your ex was using this as a cause for unreasonable behaviour and you denied you had a problem, then if it was relevant to the court case the court can request the medical records. Tess
    TG%^ - 16-Jan-17 @ 10:47 AM
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