Whilst discussing service user “consent to share information” with a colleague this morning, we found ourselves discussing exactly what and who the service user thought they had given consent to, for the viewing of confidential and personal information and records. When we placed ourselves in the position of a service user, we both agreed that we would have consented to having our information shared with “GP and other health professionals as appropriate” thinking this would be the GP and district nurse, adult services, TVN, dentist, chiropodist, and any other health professional involved in our care and treatment, but did not consider that our records may also be viewed by an outside auditor or care compliance company. We were aware that CQC had a remit to regulate the care provision and this would have included viewing personal records for compliance needs.
My thoughts continued in this theme on my way home. To define confidential information relating to a service user, would include: A person’s medical or care records, or specific pieces of information about their physical or mental health, condition or treatments, verbal discussion with care home employees, and interviews with appropriate authorities such as CQC inspectors and Adult Services who regulate for safe care and treatment, to name a few.
This now posed the question, should we consider the rewording of the consent form for sharing of information to include “outside auditors employed by the provider”? For some providers, this may well be covered in their contract where it states that the service employs outside companies for auditing purposes for compliance. If it is not however, perhaps this should be made clear on gaining consent which is decision specific, (and included on best interest decisions for those who are deemed not to have capacity) along with how this information and feedback from auditors and compliance companies is shared with the provider for the purpose of continuously monitoring and quality assuring that the service provided is delivered in a safe, dignified and positive manner. An interesting topic, and in my personal view perhaps needs to be considered under openness and transparency, but there again, am I overthinking?