Patient Confidentiality in the Research Use of Clinical Medical Databases
American Journal of Public Health 2007 April; 97(4): 654-658
Electronic medical record keeping has led to increased interest in analyzing historical patient data to improve care delivery. Such research use of patient data, however, raises concerns about confidentiality and institutional liability. Institutional review boards must balance patient data security with a researcher's ability to explore potentially important clinical relationships. We considered the issues involved when patient records from health care institutions are used in medical research. We also explored current regulations on patient confidentiality, the need for identifying information in research, and the effectiveness of deidentification and data security. We will present an algorithm for researchers to use to think about the data security needs of their research, and we will introduce a vocabulary for documenting these techniques in proposals and publications.
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