MDDUS offers advice on NHS cyber-attack

DOCTORS dealing with future ransomware attacks similar to that recently affecting the NHS are advised to apply common sense principles when treating patients without access to computerised or other medical records to ensure safety is not compromised.

MDDUS has received numerous calls from members concerned with the implications following the recent cyber-attack on some NHS IT systems.

Joint head of medical division at MDDUS, Dr John Holden advised: “Our members can be reassured that by following some simple steps to ensure patient safety at this time, they will have our support and access to indemnity in the unlikely event of a litigation claim or other complaint arising.

“If a doctor doesn’t have access to medical records, then we would advise them to act in the patient’s best interests and apply a traditional approach to the situation, tailored to the individual circumstances on a case-by-case basis.

“Doctors are advised to revert to time-honoured methods of noting a detailed history by making hand-written records, ensuring they are accurate, legible, contemporaneous, timed and dated.

“Once their IT system has been restored, the hand-written note should be recorded within the patient’s electronic records, including the time and date of the original note, as well as the time and date it is uploaded. We would also advise that the paper records be retained and scanned to the electronic record. A template, such as that produced by the RCGP (see below) might be used.

“Given the absence of past medical history, doctors should take extra care to double check any relevant medical information with their patients and document these discussions.

“Doctors should prescribe for the minimum period necessary unless they are able to sufficiently verify the drug history. Other forms of communication such as telephone can be used to contact labs etc. if results are not available online.

“Finally, doctors are reminded to act within the limits of their expertise and if in doubt, seek advice from a senior colleague or their medical defence organisation.”

The RCGP provides guidance on steps GPs should take, including a template encounter record for patients to fill in. Information and guidance can be found on the NHS Digital website.

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