Who's responsible for mistakes in summary care records?

There is no clear answer to the question of who’s responsible for mistakes in summary care records.

NHS Connecting for Health suggests that responsibility for mistakes lies with the person making the incorrect entry into a patient’s medical records.

But the legal responsibility appears to lie with the Data Controller who, in the case of Summary Care Records, is the Secretary of State for Health, according to a Parliamentary answer on 25 June in 2008 by the then NPfIT minister Ben Bradshaw.


The Data Protection Act says that the “data controller” should takereasonable steps to ensure the accuracy of data – and keep it up todate.

But it’s unclear how the Secretary of State can ensurethat Summary Care Records are up to date, or are free of mistakes.

GPNeil Bhatia points out that the adviceof the Information Commissioner’s Office is that:

“…it isnot enough for a data controller to say that, because theinformation was obtained from either the data subject or a third party,they had done all that they could reasonably have done to ensure theaccuracy of the data at the time.

“Now data controllers may haveto gofurther and take reasonable steps to ensure the accuracy of the datathemselves and mark the data with any objections. The extent to whichsuch steps are necessary will be a matter of fact in each individualcase and will depend upon the nature of the data and the consequences ofthe inaccuracy for the data subject.”

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Bhatia questionswhether the Secretary of State takes any reasonable steps to ensureaccuracy of the SCR data; and he says that nobody from Connecting forHealth checks the GP-held summary data data prior to upload. It’s alsounlikely that the GP checks it either.

So who makes sure the SCR- which is a central part of the £12.7bn NPfIT – is accurate?

Nobody, it seems.

Last month Ireported that the Summary Care Records database containsinaccuracies and omissions that make it difficult for doctors to trustit as a single source of truth, according to a confidential draftreport by University College London.

Links:

Confidentialreport on Summary Care Records finds database is inaccurate – ITProjects Blog

Opting outof the NHS database – GP Neil Bhatia’s advice

Lib-Demswant to abolish the NPfIT – Smarthealthcare.com

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