Intended for healthcare professionals


Soft paternalism and the ethics of shared electronic patient records

BMJ 2006; 333 doi: (Published 29 June 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;333:2

Soft paternalism and the hospital cafeteria

There is a flaw in Norheim's argument by analogy. If the manager of
the hospital cafeteria decides to put healthy food at the beginning of the
counter, the worst that can happen is that customers eat more healthily
without consciously deciding to do so. If patients' health records are
made universally available, confidentiality is put at risk and the
potential consequences are serious.

When serious harm can result from a course of action, explicit
consent is required. The Royal College of General Practitioners is right
to insist on "opting in".

Competing interests:
None declared

Competing interests: No competing interests

01 July 2006
Anthony P Winston
Consultant in Eating Disorders
Woodleigh Beeches Centre, Warwick Hospital, Warwick, CV34 5BW