Children could miss out on treatment with proposed linkage of dataBMJ 2013; 346 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.f409 (Published 30 January 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f409
- Chris N Jones, consultant forensic psychiatrist1
The proposed linkage of data on abused children is based on a belief that some abusive parents manipulate health systems to make it harder for services to recognise patterns of injury.1 If this is true, and it seems plausible, those same parents will also want to manipulate the new system.
One unintended, but entirely foreseeable, consequence is that some of those children, some of the time, will be denied healthcare that they would otherwise have received. For those who become non-attenders, there will be no benefit from data linkage because the data will not be collected, but significant harm may result from missed treatment.
Healthcare has traditionally been provided confidentially to encourage such patients to present for treatment. As medical information is increasingly used to prevent and detect crime, we will reach a point where the harm caused by deterring people from treatment will outweigh the benefit of reducing harm.
Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f409
Competing interests: None declared.