"Is transferral of all medical data through referral process ethical?"
About: Devon Access and Referral Team (DART) Devon Access and Referral Team (DART) Exeter EX1 1PQ
Posted by Yardstone946 (as ),
This is a story regarding my very recent referral made by my GP Practice near Exeter through the Devon Access and Referral Team, DART.
After receiving my referral I was shocked to find an entire summary of my personal medical history, including my health promotion data on the back page of the referral letter. After speaking to my GP practice manager they confirmed that this comprehensive transfer of medical data was completely normal protocol and that the GP surgery is obliged to state the medical history in case it is relevant to the referral and indeed if they refused to transfer the medical history, they risk not getting the referral accepted.
My point is that I have not agreed either explicitly or tacitly for this information sharing (to my knowledge) and nor have I been given the option to ‘opt out’ of such information being transferred.
I feel that others would be horrified if they knew that this was taking place. In addition, if there is a need for the health promotion data to be shared in a non-anonymous way such as this, I think patients should be told each time they are asked to give such information. I think it should be up to the patient to also specify what ‘sensitive’ information they would wish kept out of a referral process that involved an automated transfer of data, as indeed this appears to be an example of.
Relevant data should be shared but only with the explicit consent of the patient prior to any referral being made, whether this is through a ‘referral refinement’ service or directly to the clinician providing a second or tertiary level service.