Medical Q&As

Medical secretary - access to my files?

Could my doctorís secretary know what is in my file?

It would be impossible to run a doctorís surgery without secretarial staff coming in contact with confidential information about the people that attend the practice. There are many occasions throughout the day when a doctorís secretary comes in contact with such information. It can occur when the secretary deals with the morning post and has to file that correspondence. In that situation the secretary will be aware of the personís identity and will know whom the letter or test result is from. The correspondence could be from a solicitor regarding a personal injuries case or it could be a letter from a hospital outpatientís department regarding a test result. Secretaries may also have to type letters containing confidential medical information when people are being referred for a specialist opinion. Doctors may have to share some information about a person with their staff as they delegate a function to them such as booking appointments. The examples I have given should help to underline the fundamental importance of confidentiality in the general practice setting. If a secretary were to divulge confidential information to a third party outside of the practice that would be a very serious matter and would lead to serious censure and possibly job dismissal. A limited degree of sharing of information inevitably takes place between a doctor and his staff but the purpose of that sharing has to do with the better good of the people they serve. Your question illustrates the degree to which trust and confidentiality are the bedrock of a healthy doctor patient relationship. If you have evidence to suggest that something improper has been happening in relation to confidential information about you or a family member or friend you should bring that evidence to the attention of your doctor.