View Full Version : A question about evidence and patient confidentiality

09-04-2011, 10:56 PM
In the UK, if a woman was treated in hospital for injuries caused by her partner, and she was, some time later, injured so seriously by him that the police were able to charge him without her evidence, could they get evidence from the A&E staff who treated her the first time, or would they refuse to talk to them to maintain patient confidentiality?

09-05-2011, 11:06 AM
The notes belong to the hospital but the right of access belongs to the patient.

At any time, a person can apply to see their own notes or give another party written permission to see them. Occassionally the hospital can remove some notes before viewing if seeing them would be harmful to the patient or break confidentiality for information given to them by someone who wasn't the patient. This happens more around mental health notes than physician notes. For example if a sibling told a doctor that they had been abused and wondered if the patient's depression was a sign that they also might have experienced abuse.

So, A&E staff can show the notes or talk to the police with the woman's permission. Without that they shouldn't and wouldn't.

Otherwise a court can order the notes to be presented to the judge at trial or that a person be summoned as a witness. Then the hospital / witness has no choice.