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Copying letters to patients: a study of patients' views

  • Marek Marzanski (a1), Padmapriya Musunuri (a2) and Tim Coupe (a2)
Abstract
Aims & Method

To investigate patients' views on receiving copies of letters sent by their healthcare professionals, 72 patients were asked about their willingness to receive a copy of the letter sent to their general practitioner and about preferences for the type of information to be included in such letters. We also asked what concerns, if any, they had about the process.

Results

Three-quarters of the respondents (n=55) said they would like to receive a copy of the letter. Patients accepted the inclusion of information about their illness but were reluctant for data about their family, work and finances to be included.

Clinical Implications

Although the majority of the patients we interviewed wished to have the copy letter, many of them expressed concerns about confidentiality, the risk of distress and the cost of the process to the National Health Service. The rights of those who do not want copy letters should also be respected.

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Copyright
This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
References
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Asch, R., Price, J. & Hawks, G. (1991) Psychiatric outpatients' reactions to summary letters of their consultations. British Journal of Medical Psychology, 64, 39.
Bernadt, M., Gunning, L. & Quenstedt, M. (1991) Patients' access to their own psychiatric records. BMJ, 303, 967.
Dale, J., Tadros, G., Adams, S., et al (2003) Copying letters to patients. BMJ, 327, 450451.
Department of Health (2000) The NHS Plan. London: Stationery Office.
Department of Health (2003) Copying Letters to Patients: Good Practice Guidelines. London: Department of Health (www.doh.gov.uk/patientletters/issues.htm).
Lloyd, G. (2004) Medical records: copying letters to patients. Psychiatric Bulletin, 28, 5759.
Nandhra, H. S., Murray, G. K., Hymas, N. J., et al (2004) Medical records: doctor and patients' experiences of copying letters to patients. Psychiatric Bulletin, 28, 4042.
Slaney, M. & Vaughan, P. (1998) Patient access to psychiatric assessment reports. Psychiatric Care, 5, 225227.
Thomas, P. (1998) Writing letters to patients. Psychiatric Bulletin, 22, 542545.
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BJPsych Bulletin
  • ISSN: 0955-6036
  • EISSN: 1472-1473
  • URL: /core/journals/bjpsych-bulletin
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Copying letters to patients: a study of patients' views

  • Marek Marzanski (a1), Padmapriya Musunuri (a2) and Tim Coupe (a2)
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