Intended for healthcare professionals

Feature Online Reputations

Google, doctors, and the “right to be forgotten”

BMJ 2015; 350 doi: (Published 06 January 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;350:h27

Re: Google, doctors, and the “right to be forgotten”

I contacted the GMC during the course of writing this feature as I was anxious to clarify what does or doesn't stay on its website when a doctor is cautioned and/or returned to the register following a suspension.

I suspect some requests to Google will be from doctors who at some point in their career faced conduct proceedings. As the feature makes clear, the expert advisory panel set up by Google will examine professional conduct issues in light of the "right to be forgotten."

Unfortunately the GMC got back to me after my deadline, but this is what their spokesperson said:

"Just for background: we publish all the information about doctors in the public domain on the List of Registered Medical Practitioners (LRMP) on our website. Towards the top right there’s a section called ‘check a doctor’s registration status’ and this includes current or historic restrictions or sanctions on a doctor’s registration, including the minutes of fitness to practise hearings (unless held in private where a case relates to a doctor’s health).

"For further information about this - we publish what we call our ‘publication and disclosure’ polices on our website. This outlines how long we publish fitness to practise information about doctors, and paragraphs 6 to 19 cover the relevant points here

"Just one thing I should mention for clarification - if a doctor is erased from the register and then later restored - the original erasure decision would still be published on our website (including the minutes of the hearing). "

Competing interests: No competing interests

09 January 2015
David R Payne
Digital editor, readers' editor
Tavistock Square, London WC1H