Medical law expert challenges Scottish government mesh review

Alison Britton

A medical law expert is challenging a Scottish government mesh review amid fears patient records could be changed, The Sunday Post reports.

Alison Britton, professor of healthcare and medical law at Glasgow Caledonian University, has spoken of shared patient concerns over government plans to modify and redact records without patient consent before files were passed for review.

Professor Britton has been called upon to act as moderator to the review to determine whether mesh injured patients have been misled over whether or not their implants were fully removed.

Patients worry the redaction of surgeons’ names may mean the review will not be unbiased and have questioned the appointment of two mesh surgeons, one of who was the expert legal witness for the NHS against injured patients.

Professor Britton said: “After speaking to patients and campaigners, it’s quite clear the terms of reference for this review must change as in their current form they are confusing and unacceptable to many who wish to take part in this process.

“I’ll be speaking to the Scottish government regarding those concerns and putting forward new terms of reference, particularly surrounding amending or redacting records.

“I want to make clear any redaction will be done purely to meet data protection rules, and any amending to reviewed case notes will only be done as an addition to records, with the full consultation of the patient. If I encounter any evidence of patient records being withheld or changed before I receive them, I will take appropriate action.”

Patients and legal experts have expressed horror over the terms of reference for the review penned by Scottish government officials.

Professor Britton pledged to revise the rules.

She said: “I want to reassure women taking part, who have already suffered and gone through so much, that they can do so without worrying there will be any detriment to them.

“We need to be able to have an open dialogue about what happened, and clarity over what is contained in their case notes. If notes state there has been a full removal, that is what any patient would have expected.

“The current terms of reference do not currently cover what should be done if any evidence is found of wrongdoing, or mistakes, so I will also be addressing that with the Scottish government.”

The original terms of reference also prevent patients from bringing lawyers to the review.

Professor Britton added: “Patients should be free to bring anyone they wish with them during the review process, including their own lawyer if they so wish.

“While this is not a legal or statutory review, there must be scope for action if there is evidence of wrongdoing. I want to reassure patients that any such evidence will be passed to the relevant bodies, and I will be asking them to report back to me with their findings.”

Lindsay Bruce of Lefevres said: “The review poses the very serious question as to why accurate, patient focused and transparent medical notes are not being produced by medical practitioners at the time of treatment?

“This should set off alarm bells for everyone in respect of their medical records, not just those with transvaginal mesh. The need for this review raises very serious ethical and professional practice questions.

“Individuals, such as our clients, have been left with grave concerns surrounding the documentation of their clinical care in their medical records. Many of our clients still lack clarity on whether they had full or partial removal of their transvaginal device.

“This is a horrific position to be left following medical treatment. Medical records are a cornerstone of medical care and legal cases. They should accurately record medical information. The review and its Terms of Reference as they stand, open the door to government interference in our medical records without sufficient safeguards in place, particularly individual legal advice and guidance.”

Tags: medical law

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