Objective: to develop reflective communication between healthcare professionals, employers and employees
Understand the ethics and constraints of communicating with non-medical personnel and the appropriate contents of an occupational health report.
ABC Work Related Disorders -Working with an Occupational Health Department  ISBN 0-7279-1154-6
Requests for medical information about a patient or employee must be accompanied by the following:
- Signed and dated consent from the individual the information pertains to.
- A signed and dated letter outlining what information is sought, for what purpose and to whom the information should be sent to.
Responses to such requests need to be rapid, accurate, comprehensive and tailored to the intended audience. Thus a report to a manager should be written using general terms relating any medical conditions in terms of an individual’s functional capacity (physical and mental ability) as it is not essential for management to be aware of specific medical details. In some cases it may be advisable for management/work colleagues to have knowledge of specific medical conditions so appropriate help may be given if necessary. An example of such a condition would be an individual who has epilepsy.
To illustrate this concept consider Ms Y who has recently undergone a hysterectomy (removal of uterus) and wants to return to work 6 weeks after the operation.
She works for a large supermarket with a variety of roles including putting out stock, operating the tills and working on customer service. Consent under AMRA has been obtained by the individual along with a report request to her GP asking for a summary of her medical condition and an opinion on her fitness to return to work. The report is to be sent to manager; after referring to ‘Access evidence based return to work times’ the report may say something like
‘Ms Y has recently undergone a major abdominal operation from which recovery has been uneventful. She is fit to return to work on modified duties avoiding any heavy lifting for the next 4 weeks’.