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Education And Debate

the arguments could be extended

BMJ 2004; 328 doi: (Published 15 April 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;328:954
  1. Ron Zimmern, director (,
  2. Alison Hall, research associate in law1
  1. 1Public Health Genetics Unit, Cambridge Genetics Knowledge Park, Strangeways Research Laboratory, Cambridge CB1 8RN
  1. Correspondence to: R L Zimmern

    Lucassen and colleagues are right to query whether obtaining consent from next of kin always protects patients' interests. In the example they give, it is quite proper to argue for a more practical approach that balances benefits and harms. However, this particular example leaves other questions unanswered.

    Suppose that Ms Cole's aunt is alive but is demented and not competent to consent to any disclosure from her medical records or that she is untraceable. Even if there were no good reason to believe that she would not have objected to such disclosure, it is likely that Ms Cole would be prevented from accessing the information by the hospital, and it is unlikely that the draft …

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