Pharmacy leaders have called for clarity about whether greater records access will increase pharmacists' liability for patient harm.
Kent LPC chief executive Mike Keen warned that the sector needed to "look closely" at the legal implications of viewing a patient's summary care record (SCR), in response to predictions that all pharmacists will be able to access the records within two years.
Pharmacists might miss information "buried" at the end of the SCR, and NHS England should clarify whether this could affect pharmacists' personal liability before the sector "jumps in with both feet".
The full records could be "several pages long" and pharmacists would have to search through a patient's "deepest, darkest history" to ensure they were not going to suffer an adverse drug reaction, he told C+D.
PSNC said any increase in responsibility should be "clearly set out" to ensure contractors were not exposed to "undue risks or difficulties".
"We very much support moves to grant pharmacies further access to records but, as with any professional development, the benefits and risks need careful consideration," PSNC head of NHS services Alastair Buxton told C+D.
Essex LPC chief executive Ash Pandya and Swindon and Wiltshire LPC chief executive Fiona Castle both backed Mr Keen's calls for clarity, but told C+D that pharmacists were ready to "take on the responsibility" of records access.
Mr Pandya warned that access may increase the time it took to assess each patient and this should be taken into account when considering the value of pharmacy interventions.
Pharmacy Voice chief executive Rob Darracott said the sector should not be "too concerned" over the issue, pointing out that hospital pharmacists already managed to use SCRs "judiciously and appropriately".
"Access to patient records will add to the information that a [community] pharmacist will have to form professional judgements and make clinical decisions. That has to be good," he told C+D.
But hospital pharmacist Mary Evans said access to the SCR "certainly has a risk" and pharmacists would be expected to familiarise themselves with a patient's medical history.
"I am not disputing this is a good thing, just agreeing it will have a big impact which needs to be worked through," Ms Evans wrote on Twitter.
A pilot project by NHS England and the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) will give between 80 and 100 pharmacies across five regions read-only access to the SCR in the autumn. If the pilot is successful, all pharmacies in England will be granted access within two years, with full read-write access within five years, the project's clinical lead told C+D last week.