OBJECTIVE: To assess the workload generated by police inquiries to an accident and emergency (A&E) department and the adherence of medical staff to departmental guidelines relating to these inquiries. DESIGN: Prospective analysis of the number, nature, and timing of police inquiries and the information released by medical staff. SETTING: A&E department of an inner city teaching hospital. OUTCOME MEASURES: Number of personal and telephone requests for information from police; completion of a form of inquiry; record of patient consent for release of information. RESULTS: A daily average of 8.7 police inquiries were made, but in only 10% of cases was a form of inquiry completed. The patient's consent for release of information to the police was recorded in 4% of cases. CONCLUSIONS: Police inquiries generate a significant workload for an A&E department, often at clinically busy times. Medical staff need further education to ensure that patient confidentiality is respected while assisting the police with their investigations.
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