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MDU warns practices to look out for forged documents

2 September 2016

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The Medical Defence Union (MDU) has warned GPs to watch out for forged prescriptions and sick notes.

Writing in the latest MDU Journal, medical legal adviser Dr Ellie Mein said the MDU had supported members with cases ranging from forged prescriptions and elaborate GP letters created from scratch to genuine sick notes altered to prolong sick leave.

In one case, the MDU said a GP received a phone call from the local university asking for clarification on a letter apparently signed by the GP.

The note appeared to support a student in extending a coursework deadline due to ill health but the GP didn’t recall signing the note and the patient had not visited the GP in two years.

Mein said: “In situations where a document is entirely fake, or an original has been altered and a doctor is asked to comment on its authenticity by an external organisation, the MDU advises that it’s not a breach of confidentiality if you simply confirm that you didn’t create the document, or that any altered documents aren’t as they were when you originally signed them.

“However, no other information should be given about whether the patient is actually registered at the practice or comments made about whether the medical information is correct.”

Mein added that when faced with seemingly fraudulent documents doctors often feel understandably upset and ask if they should involve the police or remove the patient from the practice list.

But she said removing a patient from the list without prior warning could leave the practice open to criticism.

She said: “The GMC [General Medical Council] also has guidance on ending your professional relationship with patients. Bearing this guidance in mind, it is often helpful to ask the patient in to discuss the letter or form in question and to make a judgment after that discussion as to the best way forward.”