Daily DashboardEuropean Data Protection Digest

Researcher: Anonymization Not Enough

HEALTHCARE PRIVACY—UK

February 17, 2011

The use of medical records for research is a polarizing topic, with some believing current patient consent requirements hamper life-saving discoveries. But research associate Dr. Lindsey Brown opines in The Guardian that patient privacy is crucial within the National Health Service (NHS) and consent the only solution. Legally, patient records may only be accessed by special government permission, if the data has been "pseudonymized" or with explicit patient consent. However, "pseudonymized" data can still be identified, Brown writes, rendering it "personal data" and therefore subject to EU and UK consent requirements. "There are serious public concerns over the use of patient records without individual consent. Public trust in the NHS could be threatened unless there's a response to calls for transparency and accountability," Brown writes.
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