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Leading union in warning to GPs over patient referrals

29 October 2009

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A leading medical organisation has warned GPs to be extra careful when it comes to handling patient referrals following a patient’s complaint over sensitive medical information being passed on without their prior knowledge.

The Medical and Dental Defence Union of Scotland (MDDUS), which offers access to professional indemnity and expert legal advice for doctors, dentists and other healthcare professionals, highlighted the example of a patient who attended a doctor’s practice seeking a referral for elective surgery.

The GP in question then wrote a letter and forwarded medical details to the specialist but in doing so inadvertently disclosed information about an unrelated medical matter, leading to the patient complaining to the practice, which then contacted the MDDUS advice line for assistance.

Dr Gail Gilmartin, a senior medicolegal adviser at the MDDUS, stressed the need for care in GPs handling patient referrals. She said: “Particular attention should be paid to information the patient is likely to object to being disclosed.”

The Medical and Dental Defence Union of Scotland