Unless you have been ordered by the court to disclose a patient's clinical records or other information, you must have the patient's consent before releasing copies of the records.
Disclose in entirety
When a court or solicitor requests access to a patient's dental records, all the documents must be disclosed in their entirety (for example, radiographs and records), not just those considered relevant.
If you receive a dental record request from a legal representative, we wouldn't recommend you try to clarify the reasons for the request. Simply respond to the request - after discussing it with the DDU.
Providing the records might be enough to show there is no claim to be made, and nothing further may come of it.
Make sure you do not release third party confidential information, or any information that could harm the patient. If you decide not to disclose such information, you'll need to make it clear that it has been withheld and explain why.
Reports and statements
If you're involved in a case as a witness or expert, you might receive reports and statements that have been obtained for the purposes of litigation and associated correspondence. These are covered by legal privilege, and you cannot disclose them.
Make sure to keep these separately from the patient's dental records, to prevent accidental disclosure.
If you have received dento-legal reports concerning a case in which you are not acting as witness, but you are treating the patient, you are entitled to accept the reports for information They can be filed with the patient's records.
A legal representative may also seek your opinion on the patient's treatment and prognosis. Unless you are being asked to provide an expert witness report for court purposes (which you would only be able to do if you had never treated the patient in question) we would recommend that you avoid providing any comments - which could later be used against you in respect of a claim.
This page was correct at publication on 11/10/2021. Any guidance is intended as general guidance for members only. If you are a member and need specific advice relating to your own circumstances, please contact one of our advisers.