Giving patients online access to their health records will lead to doctors having to explain themselves more often, according to a survey by the Medical Protection Society.

The poll, by the company which insures GPs, shows that 84 per cent of GPs believe it will mean spending more time explaining the contents of records to patients.

It revealed a mismatch in expectations between the general public and doctors about how records should be written.

Some 75 per cent of the public agree that medical records should be written in simple language so that patients can understand them without assistance or explanation, but only 21 per cent of doctors think they should be written this way.

On the other hand, 68 per cent of doctors and 63 per cent of the public agree that the most important use of medical records is to give the doctor an overview of all the medical treatments a patient has received.

“Online medical records have the potential to transform patient care and making these available electronically will undoubtedly increase patient access,” said Nick Clements, head of medical services at MPS.

However, he added the differing expectations on how records should be written could cause tension and confusion between doctors and patients if the issue isn’t resolved before online records are introduced.