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GPs can block abusive patients from automatic records access if they fear harm to staff

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GP practices can block abusive patients from gaining automatic access to their records online if they pose a ‘risk of harm’ to staff, the Royal College of General Practice has said.

Automatic access to patients’ prospective patient records is due to be switched on by the end of this month, following delays related to concerns about patient safety.

But the RCGP’s toolkit on access to records said practices can refuse access to online records for patients that pose a risk of harm to others too.

The guidance said access should "be refused where there is a clear risk of serious harm to the safety of the patient or members of the practice team, or to the privacy of a third party".

It added: "If potentially harmful information cannot be successfully redacted and the practice remains concerned about the safety of record access for an individual patient – or in extreme cases, remains concerned that the patient may react violently to information in the record – then the practice may refuse to give the patient record access or restrict the level of access.

"It may be possible to give them access to a reduced part of the record such as the Summary Care Record or restrict access to appointments and repeat prescriptions."

The guidance said that records access should only be refused or restricted "after discussion with the practice leads for GP Online Services and Safeguarding or after seeking further professional advice from a local relevant agency or national medical indemnity organisation".

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Source: Pulse, 18 November 2022

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