The College of Optometrists

Ownership of patient records

A34
The practice, rather than the patient, or the optometrist, owns the patient records.
A35
All parties involved must ensure the originating practitioner has access to the records in the event of a query, complaint or claim.
A36
If the practice closes, the practice owner should:
  1. arrange to transfer the patient records to another registered practitioner or practice
  2. inform patients this has been done
  3. inform their primary care organisation (PCO) of the intended closure and offer the records to the PCO,  or a person nominated by the PCO, where transfer to another practitioner or practice is not possible.15
A37
Patients may choose another practice and may give consent for their new practitioner to request relevant clinical information from their records to enable the continuation of their optometric care. You should agree to such requests once you have the patient’s consent.
A38
If you work for, or in association with, non-optometrists you should ensure that your contract states that:
  1. the contractor will keep the records secure and confidential
  2. if the practice changes hands, and optometric care will continue to be provided in that practice, the records will remain in the practice with responsibility for this being passed to the incoming optometrist
  3. if the practice closes, or no optometric care will be provided when your association ends, you have the right to take the optometric records with you. This is to ensure the records stay secure and are processed lawfully. If this happens the contractor should inform the patients.

References

15 In Northern Ireland the Health and Social Care Board (HSCB) require that the contractor retains the records and makes them accessible for the appropriate period of time. The HSCB or their partner organisation, the Business Services Organisation, can then give former patients the contractor’s agreed contact details if required. Department of Health (Northern Ireland), GP contract guidance (2014) [Accessed 18 Nov 2020] 

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