Forty of 46 consecutive admissions to a psychiatric inpatient unit were encouraged to read their admission notes and discuss them with the Junior doctor. The offer was withheld for two patients with organic impairment. Twenty-eight patients (including 12 on compulsory admissions) accepted the offer. The 12 who refused were characterised by overall lower educational attainment. Diagnosis raised only a few problems, prognosis and maintenance treatment being the focus of most discussions. There was no evidence of a deterioration in the quality of notes or therapeutic relationships as a consequence of access. Only in one case was the exercise judged ‘harmful’, but ‘useful or essential’ in 22. Possible benefits for both patients and doctor are explored.
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