Mind Your P’s and Q’s

January 6, 2014

Mind your Ps and QsTake care that care records are fully confidential; you may not be the only one to have access to them.

A cursory read over of a care plan this week left me concerned enough to issue this timely reminder to all of those who are responsible for records. Here’s an excerpt:

“Please can you all make sure that Charlie does not get into Archie’s cupboard because today I found he had eaten some of the gluten free biscuits that Mrs Brown left for Christmas? Archie was really angry and scratched Charlie’s hands trying to get the biscuits off him. We have to make sure that Charlie has the scratches looked at because of Archie’s MRSA.”

So we know that Charlie is light fingered where biscuits are concerned. We know that there was an altercation and he was scratched. We know that we have to review the wounds and check them for infection.

However, we also know that Archie has gluten free biscuits, that he has a relative or friend called Mrs Brown, and that he has MRSA. And all from Charlie’s care note.

The Word

Regulation 20 of the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2010 requires us to keep and manage records in the best interest of the service user and in line with legislation on data protection. The registered person must ensure that service users are protected, by means of the maintenance of an accurate record in respect of each service user, which shall include appropriate information and documents in relation to the care and treatment provided to each service user.

It doesn’t specifically state that one service user’s record should not refer to, identify or disclose information about another. However, in the event that access to the record was requested by a relative or person acting on behalf of the service user, how could we make sure we were maintaining confidentiality?

Anonymising techniques?

Tippex is a wonderful thing; I have seen colleagues hard at it with the white stuff and photocopied records in order to undo the breaches of confidentiality that regularly happen when records are made of day to day group living. But why take the risk? Make sure your staff understand the basic rule; one care plan for one person, no identifying details of anyone else should be added to notes. Refer to staff if necessary for the purpose of governance; for example:

“Charlie was supported by Jane Clarke today at the surgery and Dr March dressed his scratches.”

But keep Archie out of it!

You can get information about confidentiality and record keeping in the policies stored under QCS Care Management 

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Ginny Tyler

Learning Disabilities Specialist

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