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Proceedings Paper

Reflecting on the ethical administration of computerized medical records
Author(s): Jeff R. Collmann
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Paper Abstract

This presentation examines the ethical issues raised by computerized image management and communication systems (IMAC), the ethical principals that should guide development of policies, procedures and practices for IMACS systems, and who should be involved in developing a hospital's approach to these issues. The ready access of computerized records creates special hazards of which hospitals must beware. Hospitals must maintain confidentiality of patient's records while making records available to authorized users as efficiently as possible. The general conditions of contemporary health care undermine protecting the confidentiality of patient record. Patients may not provide health care institutions with information about themselves under conditions of informed consent. The field of information science must design sophisticated systems of computer security that stratify access, create audit trails on data changes and system use, safeguard patient data from corruption, and protect the databases from outside invasion. Radiology professionals must both work with information science experts in their own hospitals to create institutional safeguards and include the adequacy of security measures as a criterion for evaluating PACS systems. New policies and procedures on maintaining computerized patient records must be developed that obligate all members of the health care staff, not just care givers. Patients must be informed about the existence of computerized medical records, the rules and practices that govern their dissemination and given the opportunity to give or withhold consent for their use. Departmental and hospital policies on confidentiality should be reviewed to determine if revisions are necessary to manage computer-based records. Well developed discussions of the ethical principles and administrative policies on confidentiality and informed consent and of the risks posed by computer-based patient records systems should be included in initial and continuing staff system training. Administration should develop ways to monitor staff compliance with confidentiality policies and should assess diligence in maintaining patient record confidentiality as part of staff annual performance evaluations. Ethical management of IMAC systems is the business of all members of the health care team. Computerized patient records management (including IMAC) should be scrutinized as any other clinical medial ethical issue. If hospitals include these processes in their planning for RIS, IMACS, and HIS systems, they should have time to develop institutional expertise on these questions before and as systems are installed rather than only as ethical dilemmas develop during their use.

Paper Details

Date Published: 12 May 1995
PDF: 6 pages
Proc. SPIE 2435, Medical Imaging 1995: PACS Design and Evaluation: Engineering and Clinical Issues, (12 May 1995); doi: 10.1117/12.208822
Show Author Affiliations
Jeff R. Collmann, Georgetown Univ. Medical Ctr. (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 2435:
Medical Imaging 1995: PACS Design and Evaluation: Engineering and Clinical Issues
R. Gilbert Jost; Samuel J. Dwyer, Editor(s)

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