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Duty of care regarding communication of investigation results

Date sent: Thursday 9 July 2015

Email sent by Wessex LMCs, on Thursday, 9 Jul 2015

Dear %recipient.firstname%,

Amongst the most common enquiries that the LMC has to deal with are regarding:

These are common themes across the whole of Wessex and I suspect most GPs have experienced this and I know by the volume of letters and emails these issues cause significant additional work and a fair degree of frustration.

It is therefore helpful that this week a statement has been issued by the BMA as a joint statement between the GPC and The Consultant’s Committee on Duty of care regarding the communication of investigation results and the drugs recommended from out-patient clinics has also been published – as per below and on the BMA website.

Duty of care regarding communication of investigation results

Both the General Practitioner Committee and the Consultants Committee of the BMA agree this practice is potentially unsafe, and that the ultimate responsibility for ensuring that results are acted upon, rests with the person requesting the test.

That responsibility can only be delegated to someone else if they accept by prior agreement.

Handover of responsibility has to be a joint consensual decision between hospital team and GP. If the GP hasn't accepted that role, the person requesting the test must retain responsibility.  

This advice is in line with both National Patient Safety Agency guidance and the Ionising Radiation (Medical Exposure) Regulations

Duty of care regarding drugs recommended from outpatients

Communication of prescribing recommendations from out-patient clinics to patients and their GPs is a complex area where patient safety can be compromised.

The BMA strongly recommend that LMCs and Hospital Trusts agree policies that are publicised and adhered to by all parties.

These policies should include the following general principles:

The doctor recommending a prescription should ensure that the prescription is appropriate, including carrying out any tests required to ensure safety.

The doctor recommending a prescription should provide counselling for the patient about important side effects and precautions, including any need for ongoing monitoring, which if needed should be agreed between primary and secondary care clinicians.

Recommendations should be in line with any agreed local formularies. Individual judgements should be made about the desirability of recommending a particular drug as opposed to a therapeutic class.

Where a GP feels that a prescription recommendation is inappropriate, the secondary care clinician should be informed.

Notwithstanding any of the above, all prescribers must be aware that the ultimate responsibility for the prescription lies with the prescribing doctor and cannot be delegated.

The LMC will be writing to all the local hospitals strongly supporting the principles as published by the BMA.

We will follow this up with discussions with the CCGs and hospital.

Best wishes


Dr Nigel Watson

Chief Executive

Wessex LMCs

Churchill House, 122-124 Hursley Rd

Chandler's Ford, Eastleigh

Hants. SO53 1JB (Registered Office)

Tel: 02380253874

Mobile: 07825173326


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Updated on 13 July 2015 1317 views