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As a patient, you are entitled to see your dental records at any time. Records are vital evidence in a dental negligence claim and if you believe you have received substandard dental treatment, it is important to obtain copies of …
As a patient, you are entitled to see your dental records at any time. Records are vital evidence in a dental negligence claim and if you believe you have received substandard dental treatment, it is important to obtain copies of your records and any x-rays from your dentist.
To request your own records, you will need to contact your dental practice to ask about their procedure for disclosing records. The request may need to be in writing (by email is fine) and it is likely that the practice will require you to sign a consent form.
In accordance with the General Data Protection Regulations 2018 (GDPR), the practice must provide the information to you no later than 1 calendar month from the date of your request. If the practice fails to comply or you are refused access to your records for any reason, you may consider reporting this to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).
Obtaining your dental records will not cost you anything. Under GDPR, your dental practice is not permitted to charge a fee for disclosure of records to a patient. In certain circumstances, a fee may be charged if the request is considered excessive, for example if records cannot be sent electronically and there is a large volume of notes that would incur a significant postage fee, but generally disclosure of records should be free of charge.
You can request records from a dental practice even if you are no longer a registered patient there. NHS guidance recommends that adult dental records should be retained by a practice for at least 15 years from the last treatment date and that children’s records should be retained until their 25th or 26th birthday.
If you chose to pursue a claim with us, we will obtain your records on your behalf. The first step is for you to sign our form of authority confirming that you are happy for the records to be released to us. We will then write to the practice(s) explaining that we are instructed by you in a dental claim and we require access to your records to assist with our investigations. Again, there is unlikely to be a fee for disclosure of your records. Previously, we would usually be asked to pay, but since GDPR came into effect in 2018, it is no longer permissible to charge an authorised third party for access to a patient’s records. In the event that a reasonable fee is payable, it will be paid by us. We can expect the records to be provided to us within 1 month. If the practice fails to release the records within this time, we will remind them of their obligations under GDPR and keep chasing until the records are received. As a last resort, if a practice refuses to disclose your records, we can make an application to the Court for pre-action disclosure, which means that the Court would ultimately order the practice to give us your records. However, it is extremely rare that this step is taken in a dental claim, and in the majority of cases, disclosure of records is actioned as quickly and efficiently as possible.
If you have received unsatisfactory dental treatment and are considering making a request for copies of your records, please feel free to contact us to discuss your next steps and whether we can assist you in a dental negligence claim.