Obtain extra information when treating prisoners, advises MDU

GPs should obtain as much information as possible from prisoners and those involved in their care to avoid missing diagnoses, according to the Medical Defence Union (MDU).

GPs consulting in prisons often have inadequate access to medical records and face delays in getting patients permission to visit diagnostic facilities, according to new MDU guidance. Prisoners are also more likely to withold information about their health history, it advises.

Three quarters of medical negligence claims by prisoners are against GPs and most commonly involve missed diagnoses or drug detoxification.

The guidance coincides with a report by the Care Quality Commission that healthcare for prisoners needs to improve.

Advice on overcoming the specific difficulties associated with treating prisoners has been published following an analysis of 61 medical negligence claims against doctors over the past eight years.

Treatment behind bars says to avoid diagnosis delays, GPs should ensure patients, and those responsible for follow-up, understand what to do if a condition does not improve as expected.

GPs must pay particular attention to drug histories to avoid medication and detoxification errors, the guidance says.

MDU Journal Volume 26 Issue 1, June 2010, pp20-22

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