Commentary

Evidence will help achieve consensus

BMJ 2006; 332 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.332.7534.169 (Published 19 January 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;332:169
  1. Peter Goldblatt, chief medical statistician (Peter.Goldblatt@ons.gsi.gov.uk)
  1. Office for National Statistics, London SW1V 2QQ

    Iversen and colleagues identify the problems that UK researchers have in gaining access to confidential patient information without consent.1 The issues that arise are both legal and ethical. These are summarised in Confidentiality: NHS Code of Practice.2 This document identifies four main areas of law that constrain or regulate the use and disclosure of personal health information: common law of confidentiality, the Data Protection Act 1998, the Human Rights Act 1998, and administrative law. At present, disclosure of identifiable information without consent is permitted for medical purposes other than direct healthcare (research and epidemiology) if …

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