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GPs asked to review patients with Down’s syndrome amid new shielding coding error

by Costanza Pearce
5 March 2021

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GPs have been asked to review all patients coded as having – or known to have – Down’s syndrome after some were given incorrect shielding guidance.

Women carrying fetuses with Down’s syndrome have been coded as having the condition, leading them to be listed as clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV), NHS England has said.

In its latest email bulletin, it told GPs that NHS Digital work to identify CEV patients via coded data from GP records has ‘revealed some anomalies’, including around the coding of Down’s syndrome.

It said: ‘This error has occurred when a woman carrying a fetus with Down’s syndrome has been incorrectly coded as having Down’s syndrome in her own record instead of a code that relates to the fetus she is carrying.’

Practices should carry out a search of their records and review all patients coded as having the condition, replacing any incorrect codes to ensure removal from the shielding list, it added.

‘Only the addition of a low or moderate category [risk] code will remove a person’ from the list, the bulletin said.

GPs should also check that children are correctly coded for Down’s syndrome on their record if the patients has given birth and inform any patient that has been added or removed from the shielding list, it added.

NHS England said it appreciates practices’ ‘efforts to help us overcome this anomaly’.

It comes as NHS Digital has said that GPs can remove some patients with previous gestational diabetes from shielding list, after a similar error saw them incorrectly included.

NHS England last month approved the use of the long-awaited QCovid risk tool to identify patients who should be shielding because they are at higher risk of complications from Covid-19.

As a result, 1.7 million patients were added to the list, with GPs asked to prioritise 820,000 of these for Covid vaccination.

This story first appeared on our sister title, Pulse.