NHS blunder: Stranger’s details sent in late letter offering op date

Charles Lawrie received documents relating to another patient
Charles Lawrie received documents relating to another patient
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A PATIENT today told of his anger after he was sent a stranger’s medical details – along with a hospital appointment arranged three days in the past.

Charles Lawrie, who is from Liberton, says he received a letter on Friday giving details of his appointment on the previous Tuesday for the MRI scan he had been awaiting for a year.

He then discovered that a form including the personal information of another patient had also been enclosed.

The radiology request form, which has been completed by a staff member and has been seen by the Evening News, gives the other man’s name, date of birth, address and their condition and injury.

It goes on to disclose aspects of their medical history and details whether or not they had a pacemaker, are able to walk and other confidential information.

Mr Lawrie, 45, said that the blunder had left him completely disillusioned with the NHS and that he will now live with the painful complaint that has plagued his life for two years rather than seek further treatment.

He said: “It’s a joke. It can’t be nice for that person to have those details in front of me.

“In this day and age it shouldn’t happen. They shouldn’t be seen by anyone except the doctors or specialists. It looks like it’s for the hospital’s internal use. It’s an awfully big mistake for them to make.

“How many other people is this happening to? He could have my personal details in front of him for all I know.

“I think it should be resolved so that it doesn’t happen again. It shouldn’t just be swept under the 
carpet.

“If they’re mixing up records it doesn’t put your mind at ease about going into hospital. Imagine getting operated on and they do the wrong knee.”

Mr Lawrie, a delivery driver, was due to have an MRI scan at the Royal Infirmary to uncover the cause of pain in his knee.

He says he can feel a lump below his hamstring but following X-rays doctors have been unable to provide him with a diagnosis.

He added: “I’ve been trying to get this leg fixed for two years and I’ve been waiting for a year for the MRI scan. Then a letter drops through the door with an appointment for three days ago. I wasn’t impressed.

“I was hoping to get something done, but now I feel like just putting up with it. After two years I’ve learned to live with it.”

The letter to Mr Lawrie was dated September 10 and he said he did not know whether NHS Lothian or the Royal Mail had been at fault for the late arrival of the appointment.

It included a note asking Mr Lawrie to phone the NHS as soon as possible saying whether he would be able to make the appointment that had already taken place – and a warning that he would not automatically be offered a new one if he did not respond on 
time.

Dr Alison McCallum, director of public health and health policy and Caldicott guardian for NHS Lothian, said: “NHS Lothian takes data protection extremely seriously and we would ask that the patient provides us with the information to allow an investigation to be carried out.”