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Response to article ‘Anonymising and sharing individual patient data’ - Consent and anonymisation: Beware binary constructions

Laurie, G   Dove, ES

BMJ   2015 (350) h1139

DOI: 10.1136/bmj.h1139

April 2015

This article was written as a response to the article ‘Anonymising and sharing individual patient data’ written by Khaled El Emam, Sam Rodgers and Bradley Malin.. The full version is available for download here.

El Emam and colleagues have made a fine contribution to the literature about the benefits of anonymisation and sharing of individual patient data. But it behoves us to be cognizant that the binary construction of ‘consent or anonymise’ is more rhetoric than reality, and that our ethical and legal obligations owed to patients must always reach beyond the narrow confines of a consent form or a technical process. These are enduring obligations that persist as long as the data have value, which is to say, until they are extinguished.