Access to medical reports

Question: I have just received a letter from Occupational Health with a consent form to allow my employer to write to my GP for a medical report. I’m not sure what to do about this; on the one hand it seems reasonable for them to know what they are dealing with if they are to be of any help, but on the other it seems to be taking this whole business into a different realm which I don’t understand, and I don’t understand what the implications are!

Does anyone else have any experience of this, please? I can ask for access to the report before it is released to my employer, though this is likely to have a financial cost for me. My options are now

  • To refuse consent for a report to be released
  • To give consent and access it before it is released to my employer, then see what it contains and decide whether to let them see it or not
  • To give consent and not see it myself first I am also concerned that the consent form states that ‘the clinical details will be treated in professional confidence by the Occupational Health Staff, but advice based upon it may be given to (my employer’s) management.

Is this likely to cause, rather than solve, problems – any ideas? This whole thing seems to be running away from me – after hospital conductivity tests, the hospital and GP didn’t have any suggestions to offer as to where to go from there nor could they make a diagnosis of the cause of the pain or offer any treatment. Any comments gratefully received!

Answer 1: I don’t know if this is standard practice, maybe others can comment. Personally, I would see the notes first, then make a decision about having them released, if this is possible. It only takes one uninformed Doctor, to make one uninformed and detrimental comment about your condition to really make life difficult. Is your Doctor sympathetic, knowledgeable, helpful??? It took me three Drs before I found a good one (sympathetic, knowledgeable, helpful), and he was good because his wife had rsi and he had first hand experience.

Previous Drs claimed it was in my head etc. Had my employers at the time seen that, it would have made it very difficult. Good luck.

Answer 2: I had the same thing at work. I was worried that the GP might say I was predisposed to this sort of injury – thus letting the company of the hook, so I took the option of reading the report before it was sent. I then got a few words changed that I didn’t like, can’t remember if it cost me anything. I would have thought this is your best option.

Answer 3: I gave my consent and I also asked for me to be able to read the information. My employers had to do this as part of their monitoring of my situation and prior to collaborating with pact. My doctors quoted a rheumatologist and said I had overuse syndrome which does subside with unknown length of time or something like that. It may reassure you to go and see you r doctor and ask them what they would write. The fact that you are in chronic pain will mean that they can’t ignore it really even if they don’t know what it is.

Answer 4: I presume Occupational Health is a private organization which acts for employers in investigating illnesses of employees.  If so, you should not give consent. In doing so you lose control over the confidence owed to your by your doctor and over the confidentiality of your medical records. Further, you allow the employers to direct the doctor into what to consider for the report, which can have a major impact on its content and focus.

For example, they may well ask the doctor to set out any history of anxiety/depression symptoms and treatment in the past, which they may argue subsequently is indicative of too much introspection on your part and get into all sorts of irrelevant psychobabble. Most of all you will have potentially prejudiced to a degree the way any claim is handled by a solicitor in future.  Your GP is not your expert medical advisor for these purposes and should not be put in that position.

He/she is there to state what he/she has diagnosed and a history of attendances/treatment.That is all. If you have any claim in the future you will need a medical expert. If however you allow OH to obtain their own report now that could be used against you in the future.  As you say you must co-operate and help employers obtain an opinion. So, what to do. You ask your doctor for a report after carefully considering what you wish him to address and if you are satisfied with it you show it to your employer.

It should really only be a chronology of diagnoses and treatment. If not satisfied you take the matter up with your doctor and/or consider taking a second opinion. At all times you must not lose control over your rights as an employee and patient.

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