UK | “Frustration and Suspicion” at lost records: The Ombudsman of Wales' Special Report

Service users and their families are being left feeling frustrated and suspicious by health and social care providers losing their medical records, a special report by the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales has revealed.

The Public Services Ombudsman for Wales highlighted a sample of cases in his latest thematic report, Justice Mislaid: Lost Records and Lost Opportunities, that he has considered where health and social care records have been mislaid or lost.

He warned that in some cases complainants were left with additional distress at a time when a loved one has passed away.

Examples included:

  • Consultants mistakenly discussing another patient’s medical records in a meeting with a grieving daughter following her father’s death.

  • A Health Board not having any record of a woman giving birth to her newborn child at a hospital apart from a copy of a prescription held at its pharmacy.

  • A patient who was already concerned about the security of his treatment records being repeatedly sent records relating to a different patient.

The Ombudsman called for effective records management policies and processes, robust training and clear and detailed search and reporting procedure for use when records are misplaced or lost.

Commenting on the report, Nick Bennett, Public Services Ombudsman for Wales, said:

“I urge all public services to consider Justice Mislaid: Lost Records And Lost Opportunities and ensure best practice is a good traveller across Wales.

“The detrimental effect of the lost records on complainants is evident as they are left feeling frustrated and suspicious as their concerns are left unanswered. Tragically, in some cases, relatives have been left feeling that they cannot grieve properly because of a health board’s lack of full investigation.

“At the same time, organisations are missing out on an invaluable learning opportunity if complaints cannot reach their conclusion.”


Source: Office of the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales, UK

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