Insurance Tips - How Long Should I Retain Consent Forms?
Tattoo Insurance Tips – How Long Should I Retain Consent Forms?
For any tattooist or tattoo studio, the client consent form is the first line of defence in the event of a claim for negligence or malpractice. Whilst the use of consent forms is now part of an artist’s everyday activity, we are often asked how long the forms should be retained and in what format. Whilst our tattoo insurance policy does not carry an onerous restriction, understanding best practice will mitigate risk and keep your reputation intact.
Do I Have to Maintain a Consent Form By Law?
There is no legal stipulation in terms of the content of consent forms, or a specified length of time for which they should be retained. However, the Tattooing and Body Piercing Guidance Toolkit, recommends a minimum retention of three years. This toolkit was produced following input from Public Health England, the Tattoo and Piercing Industry Union (TPIU) and the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health.
What About Insurance Requirements?
A common misconception is that treatment risk, or other malpractice allegations, are always connected to an act of professional negligence. In today’s litigious world, we find that allegations of negligence are far more common than incidents of obvious and admitted negligence. Whether it’s failure to follow aftercare instructions, or someone simply not understanding the tattooing process, legal challenges are becoming more common. Without a detailed and fully completed consent form, insurers will find it difficult to defend your position, which could lead to unsubstantiated claims being considered. As part of our required hygiene processes, obtaining a consent form represents part of our Tattoo Safe acceptance criteria, and in terms of best practice we would recommend that the content of the consent form template should be reviewed annually.
Best Practice – Consent Forms Should Be Retain for a Minimum of Seven Years
Whilst many treatment related claims will arise within weeks of the tattoo being completed – in the main relating to infection allegations – some claims can arise months, or even years, after the event. Your legal defence position could be severely impacted if the original consent form has been destroyed. Our insurer partners’ legal representatives recommend that consent forms are retained for a minimum of seven years after completion of the work. However, some rare instances such as allegations relating to skin cancer can occur after an even longer period, meaning that you have a legal right to obtain the details almost indefinitely.
How Should I Store Consent Forms?
Storing consent forms manually can provide risks such as damage or wear and tear exposures in the long-term. With this in mind, you may wish to scan records to your system, backing them up securely into the cloud. This will remove any risk any forms could be accidentally destroyed, whilst also allowing easy access if required.
Are There Any Other Risks Relating to Consent Forms?
Whilst the consent form is generally there for your protection, as you are obtaining a storing customer data such as address and date-of-birth, you also have a duty of care to keep it safe. Either manual data loss through misplacement of one or a number of forms, or hacking into your IT system, could result in claims for compensation relating to data breach and even fines from the ICO (Information Commissioner’s Office). All Tattoo Safe policyholders carry insurance protection against cyber and data loss exposures as part of their tattoo insurance package. Cover can also be extended to cover the management of a data breach, both in terms of PR and the necessary contacting process for any impacted customers, through payment of a small additional premium.
FREE Tattoo and Piercing Insurance Review
The legal exposures and ongoing risks to tattooists continue to grow and evolve, particularly as tattoo popularity is now more mainstream. Our expert insurance advisors can help you to understand your specific exposures, following which they can build a tailored insurance package which protects you and your business.