Journal is right to require patients' consent to publicationBMJ 1996; 313 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.313.7063.1007a (Published 19 October 1996) Cite this as: BMJ 1996;313:1007
EDITOR,—In his commentary on Keith Andrews and colleagues' paper on misdiagnosis of the vegetative state Richard Smith discusses the BMJ's decision to obtain consent from all patients described in case reports.1 I endorse this decision. In 1972 the Lancet published details of two patients with the rare condition myositis ossificans progressiva.2 One of the patients happened to be a family friend, and I could easily identify her in the article, thereby obtaining personal information of which I was previously unaware.
I am sure that there was nothing in this case that my friend would not have wished me to know. Nevertheless, there is clearly a risk of a serious breach of confidentiality if consent is not obtained, even when obvious identifying information has been removed.