Is it legal for a doctor's receptionist to tell your mother your medical details without your consent? | LawHive - Solicitors & Lawyers Online
Is it legal for a doctor's receptionist to tell your mother your medical details without your consent?
A receptionist at my doctors has just told my Mum my medical details. I am 25 years old. I am pregnant and I am not planning on keeping the fetus. I requested some anti-sickness tablets and while I am at work my Mum popped in and asked the receptionist why they were taking so long!! (She thinks I am taking them for a generic illness) The receptionist said THE MIDWIFE should have prescribed them. When my Mum asked if I was pregnant the receptionist said yes!!!!! I am in absolute shock. I want to take action, what do I do?

Beulah Webster

12th October 2021

+1856

1859 upvotes

Top Answer
Have you at any point handed in any consent forms to your doctors on what information you're happy for your doctor's to share with relatives ?

Louise Herrera

7th February 2022

+14

17 upvotes

NAL, but sounds like a breach of NHS confidentiality policy (assuming it was NHS)

Luis Gray

7th February 2022

+8

11 upvotes

Complain to the practice - there will be someone there who deals specifically with confidentiality issues (often called the Caldicott Guardian). Of course, it may be helpful to have an idea of what you want from this, in mind. Clearly you can't undo the knowledge of the information, but for your own vindication you may want to ensure expectations are realistic. Do you want money, an apology, you want this person to lose their job, the entire practice to fall on their swords, your Mum to be banned from there, you want to change doctors etc. etc. I expect an apology at the very least, an acknowledgment this person needs a refresher course on patient confidentiality, and perhaps some monetary amount is probably what you're looking at here.

Patricia Garcia

7th February 2022

+565

568 upvotes

Time to write a formal complaint. Include as much detail as possible - especially who the receptionist was (a description if you don't know the name) Certainly include that you were intending to have a termination and that you were not going to tell your mother you're pregnant. If she has pro life views, include that too. PALS can help if needed. Obviously now she knows and you can't change that. What would you like the outcome to be, in an ideal scenario - formal apology, receptionist sacked, compensation, or something else?

Mary Booth

7th February 2022

+490

493 upvotes

You contact PALs (Patient Advice and Liaison Service) and put in a complaint. You also write a letter to the manager of the practice informing them of the breach in data protection and the distress it has caused you. You can inform them you have made a complaint to PALs

Meghan Coleman

7th February 2022

+37

40 upvotes

Phone and speak to the practice manager and make a formal complaint. That is a huge violation of privacy and breaks every rule about data protection

Randall Sherman

7th February 2022

+1315

1318 upvotes

Did you ask your mum to go in and did she have permission to speak on your behalf previously?

Angela Trujillo

7th February 2022

As others have said, what do you want to get from this? The receptionist is only human, and slips of the tongue do happen. I'm not saying she wasn't wrong, she completely was. I recommend you lodge a complaint with the practice and suggest the receptionist gets some retraining so they don't make a similar mistake in the future with other's confidentials. There are training programmes on confidentiality, and how to deal with different situations in order to protect patient confidentiality.

Betty Johnson

7th February 2022

Make a formal complaint with Patient Liaison. I would also have a conversation with your mum about boundaries - did you send her to enquire?

Sonia Colombo

7th February 2022

+82

85 upvotes

This is a clear breach of the Data Protection Act 2018. If you experience psychological suffering as a result of this breach you are entitled to seek compensation. The receptionist should be retrained re data protection and confidentially or sacked, depending on the policy of the GP surgery re breaches of medical information without consent. All surgeries have policies in place to deal with breaches.

Dennis Robinson

7th February 2022

+16

19 upvotes

Huge breach in confidentiality complain of course but just asking why send your mum in the first place as the prescription would be signed by the midwife and she would find out anyway.

Benito Sims

7th February 2022

The thing you need to ask yourself first is what kind of outcome would you actually like? This is clearly a breach of GDPR and medical ethics ~~but is not criminal~~. You could report it to the Information Commissioner's Office and they will be very interested. Medical stuff is a big no-no. You could approach the surgery manager directly with a formal letter asking why they are not training their staff and what they will be doing to remedy it. Obviously with the implication/threat that if you aren't happy you will raise it with the commissioner. They will of course deny any breach and you may be expected to provide evidence that you aren't simply being malicious.

Troy Alcorn

7th February 2022