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Your Medical Records

By: Anna Hinds BA (hons) - Updated: 7 Jun 2017 | 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..
    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
    Can my wife access my medical records or can a court demand doctors information to prove something in a divorce court about unreasonable behaviour PLEASE HELP??
    protector - 15-Jan-17 @ 3:52 AM
    if a patient is HIV pos & needs to find an optician will they be able to see my medical records at a routine eye exam? as I have put off going as I dont want people to look down their nose at me(believe me since my diagnoses I have had a lot of it especially from so called health providers, inc the ones that make it blatant they pity you(Aww)
    Nari - 1-Jan-17 @ 11:24 AM
    and before you say I can assert my legalrights,, remember I'm nita child. Litigation is pathetic. it helps no-one. My hubby will be dead in a few years. That cant be changed now. I have enough money. Revenge is for fools. Doctors need a big shift in working practces. Stuff has moved on too much for any individual doc or evena small team to get it right. Bloodsucking lawyers are shifting medical practice against the patient. Parliament needs to address this. What will become of our society if we continue this way. My hubby and I are totally screwed due to medical practice as a result in changing information dynamics. Please work out how to modifyNHS.
    panda - 10-Dec-16 @ 11:24 PM
    My hubbyjust showed me that post. You obviously aint gonna let it stand. Butyoushould. I gave hima kidneyfot God sake. And the NHS now screws him and me over coz he's scared and stupid enough to moan. They wont even see me now. The promised me annual reviews when I donated. They lied. I am denied access as well. What the heck is wrong with you people ? Get some morality ?
    Panda - 10-Dec-16 @ 11:10 PM
    So, in reality, if your gp practice decide to falsify your records by asserting substance abuse and mental health issues, and deny real and serious medical problems, refusing investigation, in order to protect themselves for their criminal offences and life threatening, limiting and diminishing mistakes and then allow pretty much anyone associated with the NHS who asks to gain access to the falsified records, showing the patient to be undeservng of treatment, there is really nothing a patient can do. If criminal offences bydoctors are known (by the patient) to have been committed, going to the police doesnt work as the records are just edited by the gp and specialist teams and the critical aspects of them were never given in writing to the patient anyway (despite FOI access requests) If a patient gets private 'out of area' tests done to prove there are severe medical problems and then these are denied by the NHS as valid due to bad(ie non-NHS/ unclear) testing protocols, then the NHS re-tested results show no problems and the private testing company is told to doctor the results next time (they do this by talking to the lab manager at the testing centre..so the results off the analyser are edited before being sent to the docs). Then the doctors place dnacpr on the patient without letting the patient know for no valid reason and when confronted by the patient they simply tell them they are dead now. So, what should a patient do if they've already challenged NHS doctors when they make severe and life threatening errors due to incompetence, compound them with malice and try to destroy the patients credibility by manipulating opinions in small communities. Should they jstaccept that they are dead folk walking ?
    lostallhope - 10-Dec-16 @ 10:30 PM
    Hi I am paying for private cosmetic treatment and would like to ask if this will show up on my GP records?
    SM - 22-Nov-16 @ 9:40 PM
    missbumble - Your Question:
    Can my dentist look at my medical records?

    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 .
    YourPrivacy - 16-Nov-16 @ 10:19 AM
    can my dentist look at my medical records?
    missbumble - 15-Nov-16 @ 7:41 AM
    How can i find out who, other than my gp team, have accessed my medical records please ?
    noname - 12-Nov-16 @ 3:18 PM
    Star - Your Question:
    How would I go about having information removed/restrictions placed on information re: abortion from 2011 ?

    Our Response:
    You would have to contact your GP directly to make your request. You have the right to have any factual inaccuracies corrected and you can ask your health professional about amending your records if you believe they contain a factual error. However, your GP cannot remove information that is factually correct.
    YourPrivacy - 8-Nov-16 @ 11:16 AM
    How would I go about having information removed/restrictions placed on information re: abortion from 2011 ?
    Star - 7-Nov-16 @ 4:02 PM
    Blank - Your Question:
    If I get diagnosed with mental illnesses now, will future employers be able to see or is there a way to close the records off?

    Our Response:
    An employer can only see your records if you give your written consent, please see here for more information.
    YourPrivacy - 24-Oct-16 @ 11:16 AM
    If I get diagnosed with mental illnesses now, will future employers be able to see or is there a way to close the records off?
    Blank - 23-Oct-16 @ 10:50 AM
    ludmilagausena - Your Question:
    I have aplied for life insurens and thw company send me a letter to sign so thwy can access my mwdical records.i not had time to send this letter back to the insurens company and the other day I received another letter from them saying they have received all the info from my GP.can the GP give my records without my permision?

    Our Response:
    If you are based in the UK (we are a UK site that deals only with UK law), then insurance companies can routinely order medical records of customers when they apply for insurance.
    YourPrivacy - 18-Oct-16 @ 11:23 AM
    I have aplied for life insurens and thw company send me a letter to sign so thwy can access my mwdical records...i not had time to send this letter back to the insurens company and the other day i received another letter from them saying they have received all the info from my GP .can the GP give my records without my permision?
    ludmila gausena - 17-Oct-16 @ 1:56 PM
    JJ123 - Your Question:
    Can I delete medical issues that I do not have as it is stopping me from getting a military career.

    Our Response:
    You would have approach your GP practice/hospital directly to request this. If the information is incorrect then patients can be given legal right to have 'factual errors' corrected in their medical records.
    YourPrivacy - 13-Oct-16 @ 1:54 PM
    Can I delete medical issues that I do not have as it is stopping me from getting a military career.
    JJ123 - 12-Oct-16 @ 10:08 PM
    Can police obtain my abusive ex's medical records through a court order To help convict him As the IPCC have admitted the police failed me getting a conviction Even though his medical records would have proved his abuse towards me The police have said he might not of allowed them access to his records So could they of obtained them through applying to the courts
    Rach - 25-Sep-16 @ 2:00 PM
    My medical records do not show a telephone consultation that i had.It has now come to light because of another process going on.How can I get this amended.Does this sort of error occur regularly or how can I prove I had this consultation if surgery hasn't recorded it.
    smithy - 24-Sep-16 @ 9:12 AM
    @steve405 - we are still bound by confidentiality - I wouldn't worry Steve 405.
    Jo67 - 22-Sep-16 @ 10:12 AM
    If I change my GP practice does it mean that the medical staff at my old practice are no longer bound by patient confidentiality rules because I am not a patient at their practice anymore and that they could then discuss my doctors notes and disclose them to others outside the practice ?
    steve405 - 21-Sep-16 @ 12:15 AM
    I had an attemped suicide in June this year because I suffer from generalised anxiety disorder and panic disorder. I have been seeing a psychiatrist for 7 years but was left twisting in the wind with only the odd random out patient appointment. My condition came about as a result of an abusive marriage. I have a 10 year old son. A case conference was held at the social work office and a report was shoved under my nose 2 minutes before entering a room containing 15 people! Splashed accross the front of it was ' Attemped suicide etc etc' Aswell as being mentioned at least 6 times within the report. A copy of the report was sent to my child's father and he found it hilarious and is passing it around like a newspaper. Social work were warned about him and how vindictive he is but worded the the report the way they did regardless. My solicitor says they could quite easily have highlighted how sick I was without doing that to me. They have left me open to a new line of abuse from my ex husband. Is there anything I can do about this? And where is the line drawn when it comes to privacy. I might aswell have had the worst period of my life tattooed across my forehead
    Angie - 20-Sep-16 @ 8:06 PM
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