To explore current practice in offering patients copies of correspondence, we audited the documentation of 422 patients of a community mental health team.
Discussion about copying letters was documented in 194 case notes (46%); older patients and those with medically unexplained physical symptoms were less likely to be offered copies. There were 159 patients (82%) that wanted to receive copies of letters; male gender was associated with declining this option. In 167 (87%) instances the professional completing the form was a psychiatrist.
Older patients need to be offered the opportunity to receive correspondence. Clinicians should record and substantiate their decision not to offer copies of letters to some patients. Professionals other than psychiatrists should be encouraged to discuss copying letters with patients.
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