Intended for healthcare professionals

Letters Copying letters to patients

Try it and see

BMJ 2008; 337 doi: (Published 10 December 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;337:a2786
  1. Charles D Shee, chest physician1
  1. 1Queen Mary’s Hospital, Sidcup, Kent DA14 6LJ
  1. charles.shee{at}

    Generally, doctors who are sceptical about copying letters to patients seem not to have tried it, whereas those who send copies routinely are enthusiastic.1 I had initial reservations, but for four years have sent copies of letters to patients, including my letters to general practitioners and for tertiary referrals. Asking patients if they would like copies adds minimal time to a consultation, and few decline (some ask for a close relative to receive the letter instead).The informal feedback from patients has been uniformly favourable, and they say it makes them feel more involved in their management.

    None of my consultant colleagues who has tried copying letters to patients has subsequently stopped because of the theoretical problems, and most, like me, have become converts to the practice. Try it and see.


    Cite this as: BMJ 2008;337:a2786


    • Competing interests: None declared.


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