Private hospitals have introduced a code of practice for doctors that requires them to take part in clinical audits and provide clear patient records. The code was drawn up by the Private Hospitals Association on behalf of the 12 private hospitals and has been in effect since last April. Association chairman Alan Lau Kwok-lam said some visiting doctors at private hospitals in the past did not even fill in discharge summaries for patients. But the code gave private hospitals more control over the quality of care and over doctors' performances. Dr Lau said the code demands that doctors who are granted admission privileges at private hospitals comply with its regulations. The code requires all doctors 'adequately document a patient's history, physical findings, treatment and clinical progress in the patient's hospital record'. It also requires 'a full discharge summary written by the doctor in charge'. 'If a doctor breaks a rule in one hospital, all the private hospitals can deny his admission privileges altogether,' Dr Lau said. He admitted that in the past, private hospitals had to please visiting doctors because they booked the hospitals' facilities so were their clients. But as the private hospital business has boomed in recent years, the hospitals have gained greater bargaining power, as the doctors are in competition for their facilities. 'In the past, up to 80 per cent of doctors were reluctant to write discharge summaries. But since the code of practice has come into effect, all of them are very co-operative,' Dr Lau said. 'This can enhance protection of patients and ensure hospitals know what the doctors, especially the visiting doctors, are doing. It helps improve clinical governance and public accountability.' Dr Lau said no doctors had breached the code of practice and the association was satisfied with the 'reform'. Union Hospital deputy medical director Ares Leung Kwok-ling said the code consisted of very general ideas. 'Most doctors already did what the code of practice requires them to do before it was launched, but we think it is better to put the regulations in black and white. I don't think doctors would have difficulties complying with them,' Dr Leung said.