Expert advice

Legal advice: Are patients allowed to read their bedside notes?

Although some clinical areas allow patients to read their bedside notes there is no automatic right for them to do so, says legal expert Marc Cornock

Although some clinical areas allow patients to read their bedside notes there is no automatic right for them to do so, says legal expert Marc Cornock

Many patients and relatives believe they have a right to see any aspect of their health record on demand, including being able to read their bedside notes whenever they want.

When I was in clinical practice, bedside notes were usually kept at the bottom of the patient’s bed in a Kardex containing clinical information such as observation charts, fluid balance charts, drug prescription charts and the patient’s care plan.

Notes kept at the bottom of a patient’s bed are part of their health record. Patients may say that as the health record is about them, it is their personal information and they own it, but this is not the case. Health records are owned by

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