contact slip standards in a GU setting
This information has been prepared by a SHASTD working group
principally for Health Advisers. It has been circulated and agreed as a standardised
practice in the UK by AGUM and GUNA.
Standardisng the format and use of Contact slips in the UK
The aim of improving the format and use of contact slips in the UK is
to enable contacts of an infection to access genitourinary screening tests and therefore
reduce the spread of infection. SHASTD acknowledges that at present contact slips are the
most effective way of facilitating attendance and therefore screening and epidemiological
treatment. They encourage discussion, responsibility and compliance by the index patients
and their contacts.
Rationale for developing/ changing contact slips
SHASTD looked at the name Contact Slip and decided that
this should remain the same as no better alternative could be found. Points in favour of
keeping this included:
SHASTD considered other
alternative names to contact slip and ruled out the terms screening
form check-up slip and notification form as it was felt that
this may deter some people from attending. Screening is not always mandatory and the other
terms may be associated with having a notifiable disease. The term slip was
seen as more appropriate than card or form.
The use of the contact slip book stubs has been left to the individual
discretion of each clinic. SHASTD acknowledges that some clinics may use stubs to assist
in the documenting of resolution of partner notification. If this is the case then the
group felt it would be useful to have headings for resolution on the reverse side of the
A minimum amount of information has been put on the proposed contact
slip with the expectation that they can be readily tailored to individual clinic needs.
Maps may or may not be necessary. Times are useful, but an advice number may be more
versatile, recognising that contact slips are more likely to go out of date sooner if they
include more information.
SHASTD Guidelines for Health Advisers in the management of
contact slips within the clinic
Health advisers should take the lead in co-ordinating and clarifying
the roles and responsibilities of staff and the development of clinic policy for partner
notification in the GU setting.
Health advisers should be involved in the training of new members of
staff so that they are clear of their role with partner notification.
Giving index patients contact slips
Contact slips should routinely be given to patients who have traceable
contacts of the following infections:
infectious syphilis, gonorrhoea, chlamydia, non gonococcal urethritis,
trichomonas vaginalis, pelvic inflammatory disease, infectious hepatitis and chancroid.
(clinics may decide to give out contact slips for other infections such as herpes or warts
depending on the clinics protocol and individual situations)
Contact slip administration is a multidisciplinary team responsibility,
they can be issued by doctors, health advisers and nurses within GU clinics. Within
clinics there may need to be clarification of:
Where a patient has a contact
slip issued from another clinic and more information is required the health adviser may
telephone the health adviser at the issuing clinic. The health adviser should be able to
gain access to all the relevant information required to resolve partner notification.
On information being given to contacts/ partners
The contact/ partner will often volunteer the name of the index patient
and the infection that they have. This then permits further discussion about the infection
without a breach of the index patients confidentiality.
General principals of index and partners/ contacts confidentiality
The index patients or
contacts/ partners identity should not be disclosed
Where patients ask to see
their medical notes they can only see information written about themselves and therefore
not their contacts/ partners.
Notes should not be left
unattended with a patient
If the contact does not know the
name of the infection then they should not be informed of this but may be given general
information we will do a routine screen for infections which includes the infection
you may have been in contact with. (for women)
.. The screen will be for infections
including Chlamydia, Gonorrhoea, Syphilis, Thrush, B.V. Trichomonas, if we find these
infections we will be able to treat / get rid of them. It is possible to have the
antibiotics that will treat the infection that you may have. I suggest we do a check for
these infections see if they show anything up and then decide whether you have any
treatment today (men discussion re infections could include Chlamydia, Gonorrhoea,
Syphilis, and N.S.U.)
Patients may be informed that
I do not have any reason to believe that you are at risk of HIV but if you would
like to be tested for HIV we also offer this as a screening test at this clinic, would you
like to discuss HIV testing?
Patients who demand
to know what the infection is need to be told that they have a right to know their own
diagnosis but not their contacts/ partners.