Enabling posthumous medical data donation: an appeal for the ethical utilisation of personal health data

Science and Engineering Ethics 25 (5):1357-1387 (2019)
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Abstract
This article argues that personal medical data should be made available for scientific research, by enabling and encouraging individuals to donate their medical records once deceased, similar to the way in which they can already donate organs or bodies. This research is part of a project on posthumous medical data donation developed by the Digital Ethics Lab at the Oxford Internet Institute at the University of Oxford. Ten arguments are provided to support the need to foster posthumous medical data donation. Two major risks are also identified—harm to others, and lack of control over the use of data—which could follow from unregulated donation of medical data. The argument that record-based medical research should proceed without the need to secure informed consent is rejected, and instead a voluntary and participatory approach to using personal medical data should be followed. The analysis concludes by stressing the need to develop an ethical code for data donation to minimise the risks, and offers five foundational principles for ethical medical data donation suggested as a draft code.
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Archival date: 2021-06-10
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