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Re-evaluating confidentiality: using patient information in teaching and publications

  • Heather Draper and Wendy Rogers

Abstract

Case studies used in psychiatry for teaching and learning can include large amounts of personal information, and most medical journals refuse to publish case material without patient consent. However, not all patients are capable of consenting and maintaining anonymity is not always successful. Disclosure of personal information without consent can cause a sense of violation, but a principle of non-violation rigorously applied would prohibit the use of such material without consent, even if the patient is completely unidentifiable. A public interest argument can be made for using patient information for teaching purposes. Furthermore, a limited case can be made for using, and even publishing, some cases without consent, e.g. those requiring urgent public discussion or concerning people who are incapable of giving consent. Thus, an argument can be put forward for relaxing to this limited degree the demand for patient consent to publish case material.

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References

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BMJ Publishing Group (2004) BMJ Editorial Policies. http://bmj.bmjjournals.com/advice/editorial_policies.shtml.
Court, C. (1995) GMC finds doctors not guilty in consent case. BMJ, 311, 12451246.
General Medical Council (2004) Confidentiality: Protecting and Providing Information. http://www.gmc-uk.org/standards/secret.htm.
Rogers, W. & Draper, H. (2003) The ethics of confidentiality in medical ethics. Journal of Medical Ethics, 29, 220224.
Royal College of Psychiatrists (2004) Advances in Psychiatric Treatment: Instructions for Authors. http://apt.rcpsych.org/misc/ifora.shtml.
Stone, D. (2001) Confidentiality, access to health records and the Human Rights Act 1988. In Healthcare Law: Impact of the Human Rights Act 1998 (eds Garwood-Gowers, A., Tingle, J. & Lewis, T.) pp. 127146. London: Cavendish Publishing.
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BJPsych Advances
  • ISSN: 1355-5146
  • EISSN: 1472-1481
  • URL: /core/journals/bjpsych-advances
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Re-evaluating confidentiality: using patient information in teaching and publications

  • Heather Draper and Wendy Rogers
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