Is presumed consent enough for sharing medical data?

Is presumed consent enough for sharing medical data?
Views And Reviews
Helen Salisbury
BMJ, 29 June 2021; 373
Open Access
…Just how formal we need consent to be depends on the situation; asking for written consent before every interaction would be cumbersome and impractical. But whether it’s written, verbal, or implied, for consent to be valid it needs to be informed. Patients must understand what they’re agreeing to, although the depth of the explanation required will vary. If I arrange to take a blood test, I’ll paraphrase what I’m looking for: “I’m going to check that you’re not anaemic and that your liver and kidneys are working normally” is probably enough for most patients. But my surgical colleagues, embarking on something more serious and irrevocable, need to be formal and detailed in their discussions, so that the patient understands the risks and benefits before going under an anaesthetic and the knife… As data controllers, GPs must be sure that patients have given valid consent for their data to be processed by NHS Digital before we can hand it over, at a date currently scheduled for 1 September 2021. As it remains unclear what safeguards will be in place to guarantee the security of personal medical information, we’re not yet in a position to explain to patients the risks and benefits of sharing their data…

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