My Own Provocative Questions

These are not really meant for anybody to answer. I mean, you’re welcome to if you feel the urge (but please don’t try doing so in a comment!), but just some things I’ve been mulling over as a result of an unsatisfactory conversation I had with my doctor’s surgery yesterday.

I am overdue an annual blood test. With the virus, everything has slipped. My wife, who is a nurse at the surgery, offered to take my blood this week, she’d bring the gear home. Initially, I was on for this, but this conversation made me stop and think.

I use my surgery’s portal to order meds each month – the point here is that, security-wise, it is considered safe enough to allow me to log on and order meds, it is happy that I am bona-fide. I notice, on the portal, there is a page for test results. If I click on that page, I get a message that “test results are not enabled on this account”. and that I should contact the surgery to set it up. Fair enough.

Now, I already talked to my wife. I mean, it is somebody else’s job to put the details onto the system, but her gut feel is that our surgery does not make use of this “test result” functionality.

So, playing ignorant, I contacted the surgery. I asked whether it was possible to set me up. My wife was correct in that this was certainly very unusual, and the guy I spoke to had no clue either, but said he’d find out.

In the end, he advised me that it could happen. But… if I wanted to view the results online, I would have to ask the doctor’s permission.

Permission? This made me stop and think. I have a blood test. My blood. The NHS then processes the blood and comes out with a set of numbers. Who then owns those numbers? While the NHS applies the processing, the numbers will be unique to me, in fact, without me, there would be no numbers. So my gut feel is that those numbers belong mostly to me. And, if so, why do I need anybody’s permission to see them? Put another way, what right does a doctor have to deny somebody that permission?

Now, I have to be careful how I go along this route. They could turn around and say, “okay, if you do not have the test, then we cannot safely prescribe any further meds”, and so my supply will dry up. And the conclusion will be that sooner or later, I will have another stroke. So, I need to think about this some.

But it’s an interesting question*. Not one we often think about, but when we have a test (blood or otherwise), who actually owns the results? In some ways, here, a more commercially-oriented system would be better, because the lines are not so blurry. But even in some place like the US, who actually owns the data there? The patient? Or, the insurance company?

And it goes along the same lines as one I thought about as a result of COVID, when people in various places were unable to see their loved-ones bodies after death – who actually owns our body?

I’ve told my wife I’ll hold fire on the test for the moment, I need to puzzle this one out. But I have to say, the more I learn about the NHS, the less I like about it.

* – interesting to a geek like me

Author: Mister Bump UK

Formerly Stroke Survivor UK. Designed/developed IT systems for banks, but had a stroke in 2016, aged 48. Returned to developing from home, plus do some voluntary work. Married, with a grown-up, left-home daughter.

10 thoughts on “My Own Provocative Questions”

  1. Something similar happened with me in regards to a radiography done by the dentist. To make it short, he showed it to me and when I asked if I could have it on a usb key or cd, the nurse told me that it belongs to them. Sometimes I’m a bit curious and I asked my nephew, who is studying to become a dentist if it is really so. He told me that it’s not true. Anything medical that I make belongs solely to me. Now, I will wait a bit, but when I’ll be finished with my dental care, I will ask for it. I guess it should be the same in the UK 🤗

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Talking specifically about dentistry, we might be different here. Purely because 90% of dentistry is private, so it will be governed by whatever happens to be agreed between the patient and the dentist. In general health (public sector), I have no idea if there has ever been a legal case – there is no explicit agreement, after all.
      We have arcane rules around patients being allowed access to their own medical records – permission was hitherto refused but there was a fuss a few years ago. I think the outcome was that the patient had the right to ask, but that certain aspects of the records could be witheld.
      When I fill forms out for my charity it is always with the assumption that the client might look at them later, but that just seems to be common sense. Anything remotely negative stays in my head.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Working on a rant about the whole of “telemedicine.” I hesitate because there are so many facts to check. It is mostly personal, but first I agree with you: me, MY data. And second the whole of telemedicine is wrong, so many NON-IT and NON-medical people in the loop I don’t care to have bagging my groceries; don’t bruise my peaches and don’t let my ice cream thaw…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The lab I use to get bloodwork done for Dr appointments is set up to get my results online. There is a fee which they have discounted due to covid. It makes me more prepared when I go to the Dr office. I’ve never thought about who owns the test results.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s funny because I guess the lab has the responsibility to get them to the doctor, but after that, there’s probably no obligation to keep them on disk. I wonder if they do? I bet they must. And then the doctor’s office has the same dilemma!

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  4. I get it.  It’s like waiting weeks for a scan result when you know the person sitting there taking the scan sees and knows the results at that moment.  Anxiety builds unnecessarily when we skip this lengthy conclusion.

    Sent from Yahoo Mail on Android

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Who ‘owns’ the test results? Ostensibly the patient of course. NOW, that comes with the knowledge (in the sensible person anyway) that any number of people can view and even do things with those results. They’re supposed to seek permission (have you tried to dance around HIPPA (patient privacy act) in the USA? Depending on whom you’re dealing with, you might as well try to talk blood out of a stone. People are fined heftly and even get jail time for sharing such info willy nilly. Does my insurance ‘own’ my results? Eff no. They have far too difficult a time trying to keep track of how much money they’ve charged me. And it’s possible that I’m just whistling in the dark and feeling comforted that not everyone knows my personal business that way. Ultimately I wonder who even cares about it, save the patient?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I suspect your laws are similar to ours. My mrs can’t go in and look at my records, say. (just as well there’s nothing embarrasing!) Or rather, she could, but it would be recorded that she’d even viewed the data. My gut feel is that I own the data, too, but we can have surprising difficulty getting data out of public bodies!

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