Records and reports in court cases

Records can be critical in establishing the facts in a court case.

Before disclosing confidential patient information, we suggest you call our advice line, as well as considering the following advice.

Consent

Unless you have been ordered by the court to disclose a patient's clinical records or other information, seek the patient's consent first.

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.

Make sure you do not release third party confidential information, or any information that may harm the patient. If you decide not to disclose such information, you will need to make it clear that it has been withheld and explain why.

Reports and statements

If, as a result of your involvement in a case as a witness or expert, you have received reports and statements obtained for the purposes of litigation and associated correspondence, they are covered by legal privilege and may not be disclosed.

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, you are entitled to accept the reports as being sent to you for information as the treating dentist. They may be filed with the patient's records.

This guidance was correct at publication 18/01/2018. It 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.

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