Staff Members accessing records of their Family/Relations
We would like to remind practices of their obligation for protecting access to records by their staff members.
GMC guidance from April 2013 states:
‘Wherever possible you should avoid providing medical care to anyone with whom you have a close personal relationship’ This principle needs to be carried across into any situation where practice staff could access information on their family or relations. This may be where they accidentally come across information (such as opening a discharge letter) or perhaps when acting on a message received by the practice.To avoid any possible concerns about breaches of confidentiality or inappropriate access practices are asked to review their existing policies and procedures and in doing so to consider the following:
- Whether there should be policy that specifically states that staff should not access family/relations information, even when pursing their legitimate work in the practice.
- Practice should ensure that all staff are aware that inappropriate access is a disciplinary matter.
- Ask staff to register if any of their family/relations are patients at the practice
- Develop a procedure to cover the eventuality of a member of staff inadvertently coming across family/relation’s information e.g., the member of staff should ask a colleague to complete the task and register the event with the designated person e.g. the practice manager or senior partner.
- Remind staff that they are only permitted to view a patient’s confidential information when there is a legitimate work reason to do so, and this applies to family members and relations, unless there are Practice specific rules to adhere to.
- Remind staff when there is not a legitimate work reason they are in the same position asmembers of the public; they can only legally access a patient’s confidential information where the patient has registered their consent with the practice for them to do so. This applies to family members and relations.
- To be able to act on a patient’s behalf e.g. reordering prescriptions etc., requires a further consent from the patient stating a specific person can act on their behalf and to what capacity and this must registered with the practice this applies to family members and relations.
- Introduce regular audits of access to patients’ records.
- Amend relevant policies to include some or all of the above.
- Remind staff that any inappropriate access of a patient’s confidential information is a disciplinary matter.
The children of staff registered at the practice need to have special consideration, especially as theyreach the upper teenage years and are able to start making informed choices without parental involvement.
For further guidance please discuss any concerns or issues with your Information Governance Leador Caldicott Guardian.