Working with doctors Working for patients

 

Introduction

Mrs Jessop comes to the surgery for pain and stiffness in her neck and back following a car crash.

(The story so far...)

Mrs Jessop, 72, is becoming forgetful and her husband is concerned. Mr Jessop has shared his concerns with their GP, Dr Williams but is reluctant for Dr Williams to tell his wife about the conversation.

Mrs Jessop

Mrs Jessop

The main problem is my neck which isn't as bad as it was immediately afterwards. The doctor at A&E suggested I come to see you to give me the once over, maybe some more pain killers. It was just a little bump really but it does make you wonder, doesn't it? I mean I'm not getting any younger...

Dr Williams

Dr Williams

Can you tell me a bit more about how the accident happened?

Mrs Jessop

Mrs Jessop

Well I don't really remember it that well...I was pulling out from the edge of the roundabout and was sure I'd checked to see the way was clear then when I pulled out this car just came out of nowhere. The other driver insists I just drove straight towards him - like I was going round the roundabout the wrong way - but I can't believe I'd do something like that. Anyway I'm happy to let the insurance handle it all, as long as I can get back on the road ASAP. I don't know what I'd do without my little car.

Dr Williams

Dr Williams

I can understand that driving is an important way of maintaining your independence. Provided that it's safe for you to drive of course. You said that you don't remember the crash clearly. Would you say you were getting more forgetful or confused generally?

Mrs Jessop

Mrs Jessop

No more than usual I don't think. You sound like my husband - he's always going on at me, saying that I'm all scatty and keep repeating myself; that I shouldn't be driving at my age...Oh don't tell me, he's been in to see you hasn't he? I knew something was up after his appointment last week...I can't believe that man! What's he been saying?

What should the doctor do...? (Select A,B or C)

A

Tell Mrs Jessop that her husband did come in but that he only has her best interests at heart?

B

Explain that she can't disclose whether or not her husband came to see her and that - if he had - she would have to hold whatever he said in confidence?

C

Sidestep the question and continue the discussion about her mental state?

Dr Williams

See what the doctor did

Dr Williams confirmed, sympathetically, that Mrs Jessop's husband was concerned about her and that he did mention something about her driving being important to her. After further discussion, Mrs Jessop revealed that she had been getting anxious about increased levels of confusion, and that she recently lost her way when driving home from a routine trip into town.

Dr Williams conducted a mini mental state examination on Mrs Jessop and arranged for blood tests to check for any physical conditions that may cause or contribute to her impaired memory and concentration. She informed Mrs Jessop of her duty to tell the DVLA if she has a condition that may affect her ability to drive, and suggested that she does not drive until after they've reviewed the test results. Mrs Jessop agreed.

When booking her blood tests with Mrs Campbell, the receptionist, Mrs Jessop told her about the agreement to stop driving and asked her to call a taxi.

References

Section 7 of the Data Protection Act 1998 gives patients the right to have access to their personal information; but there are some exceptions. For example, you do not have to supply a patient with information about another person or that identifies another person as the source of the information, unless that other person consents or it is reasonable in the circumstances to supply the information without their consent. See the Information Commissioner's technical guidance note on Dealing with subject access requests involving other people's information.
(Confidentiality, paragraph 66, endnote 27)