Desperate Times: Protecting the Public From Research Without Consent or Oversight During Public Health Emergencies

Desperate Times: Protecting the Public From Research Without Consent or Oversight During Public Health Emergencies
Ideas and Opinions
Mary Catherine Beach, Howard M. Lederman, Megan Singleton, Roy G. Brower, Joseph Carrese, Daniel E. Ford, Bhakti Hansoti, Craig W. Hendrix, Ellen Verena Jorgensen, Richard D. Moore, Philip Rocca, Jonathan M. Zenilman
Annals of Internal Medicine, 27 July 2020; (57) pp 163–165
Open Access
Excerpt
…Obtaining informed consent may be impracticable in some public health surveillance activities. The ethical basis for using surveillance data without consent, particularly in emergency situations, is that it serves a compelling common good. Many—including the authors—agree that public health activities should proceed without informed consent when it is not possible or would undermine effective public health response. However, in the absence of a legal requirement, consent should be considered if possible. Obtaining consent may not be difficult, especially when data are collected prospectively. Even if informed consent is impracticable, information about the scope and purpose of the surveillance should be available to participants and to the public…

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