Objective: There are benefits and risks of giving patients more granular control of their personal health information in electronic health record (EHR) systems. When designing EHR systems and policies, informaticists and system developers must balance these benefits and risks. Ethical considerations should be an explicit part of this balancing. Our objective was to develop a structured ethics framework to accomplish this. -/- Methods: We reviewed existing literature on the ethical and policy issues, developed an ethics framework called a “Points to (...) Consider” (P2C) document, and convened a national expert panel to review and critique the P2C. -/- Results: We developed the P2C to aid informaticists designing an advanced query tool for an electronic health record (EHR) system in Indianapolis. The P2C consists of six questions (“Points”) that frame important ethical issues, apply accepted principles of bioethics and Fair Information Practices, comment on how questions might be answered, and address implications for patient care. -/- Discussion: The P2C is intended to clarify whatis at stake when designers try to accommodate potentially competing ethical commitments and logistical realities. The P2C was developed to guide informaticists who were designing a query tool in an existing EHR that would permit patient granular control. While consideration of ethical issues is coming to the forefront of medical informatics design and development practices, more reflection is needed to facilitate optimal collaboration between designers and ethicists. This report contributes to that discussion. (shrink)
Some experts have argued that patients should routinely be told the specific magnitude and absolute probability of potential risks and benefits of screening tests. This position is motivated by the idea that framing risk information in ways that are less precise violates the ethical principle of respect for autonomy and its application in informed consent or shared decisionmaking. In this Perspective, we consider a number of problems with this view that have not been adequately addressed. The most important challenges stem (...) from the danger that patients will misunderstand the information or have irrational responses to it. Any initiative in this area should take such factors into account and should consider carefully how to apply the ethical principles of respect for autonomy and beneficence. (shrink)
Ethics should guide the design of electronic health records (EHR), and recognized principles of bioethics can play an important role. This approach was adopted recently by a team of informaticists designing and testing a system where patients exert granular control over who views their personal health information. While this method of building ethics in from the start of the design process has significant benefits, questions remain about how useful the application of bioethics principles can be in this process, especially when (...) principles conflict. For instance, while the ethical principle of respect for autonomy supports a robust system of granular control, the principles of beneficence and non-maleficence counsel restraint due to the danger of patients being harmed by restrictions on provider access to data. Conflict between principles has long been recognized by ethicists and has even motivated attacks on approaches that state and apply principles. In this paper we show how using ethical principles can help in the design of EHRs by first, explaining how ethical principles can and should be used generally, and then by, discuss how attention to details in specific cases can show that the tension between principles is not as bad as it initially appeared. We conclude by suggesting further ways in which the application of these (and other) principles can add value to the ongoing discussion of patient involvement in their health care. This is a new approach to linking principles to informatics design that we expect will stimulate further interest. (shrink)
Introduction: Previous studies have measured individuals’ willingness to share personal information stored in an electronic health record (EHR) with healthcare providers. But none have measured preferences when patients’ choices determine access by healthcare providers. -/- Methods: Patients were given the ability to control the access of doctors, nurses or other staff in a primary care clinic to personal information stored in an EHR. Patients could restrict access to all personal data or to specific types of sensitive information, and could restrict (...) access for a specific time period. Patients also completed a survey regarding their understanding and opinions regarding the process. -/- Results: Of 139 eligible patients who were approached, 105 (75.5%) were enrolled and preferences were collected from 105 of them (100%). Sixty patients (57%) did not restrict access by any providers. Of the 45 patients (43%) who chose to limit the access of at least 1 provider, 36 restricted access only to all personal information in the EHR, while 9 restricted access of some providers to a subset of the their personal information. Thirty-four (32.3%) patients blocked access to all personal information by all doctors, nurses, and/or other staff; 26 (24.8%) blocked access by all doctors and/or nurses, and 5 (4.8%) denied access to alldoctors, nurses, and staff. -/- Conclusions: A significant minority of patients chose to restrict access by their primary care providers to personal information contained in an EHR, and few chose to restrict access to specific types of information. More research is needed to identify patient goals and understanding when facing decisions of this sort, and to identify the impact of educating patients regarding information contained in the EHR and its use in clinical care. (shrink)
While several tests and strategies are recommended for colorectal cancer (CRC) screening, studies suggest that primary care providers often recommend colonoscopy without providing information about its risks or alternatives. These observations raise concerns about the quality of informed consent for screening colonoscopy.
Most people do not know there are different kinds of medical studies; some are conducted on people who already have a disease or medical condition, and others are performed on healthy volunteers who want to help science find answers. No matter what sort of research you are invited to participate in, or whether you are a patient when you are asked, it’s entirely up to you whether or not to do it. This decision is important and may have many implications (...) for your health and well-being, as well as those of other patients now and in the future. Making a good decision – the right one for you – requires you to become educated about topics you may not have thought about before, some of which may be quite complicated. This chapter explains the key issues to help you make a good decision. (shrink)
The purpose of this study is to compare and contrast the basic ethical values underpinning national health care policies in the United States and Canada. We use the framework of ethical theory to name and elaborate ethical values and to facilitate moral reflection about health care reform. Section one describes historical and contemporary social contract theories and clarifies the ethical values associated with them. Sections two and three show that health care debates and health care systems in both countries reflect (...) the values of this tradition; however, each nation interprets the tradition differently. In the U.S., standards of justice for health care are conceived as a voluntary agreement reached by self-interested parties. Canadians, by contrast, interpret the same justice tradition as placing greater emphasis on concern for others and for the community. The final section draws out the implications of these differences for future U.S. and Canadian health care reforms. (shrink)
Ethical issues related the responsible conduct of research involve questions concerning the rights and obligations of investigators to propose, design, implement, and publish research. When a principal investigator transfers institutions during a grant cycle, financial and recognition issues need to be addressed to preserve all parties’ obligations and best interests in a mutually beneficial way. Although grants often transfer with the PI, sometimes they do not. Maintaining a grant at an institution after the PI leaves does not negate the grantee (...) institution’s obligation to recognize the PI’s original ideas, contributions, and potential rights to some forms of expression and compensation. Issues include maintaining a role for the PI in determining how to take credit for, share and publish results that involve his or her original ideas. Ascribing proper credit can become a thorny issue. This paper provides a framework for addressing situations and disagreements that may occur when a new PI continues the work after the original PI transfers. Included are suggestions for proactively developing institutional mechanisms that address such issues. Considerations include how to develop solutions that comply with the responsible conduct of research, equitably resolve claims regarding reporting of results, and avoid the possibility of plagiarism. (shrink)
Medical research involving human subjects raises complex ethical, legal and social issues. Investigators sometimes find that their obligations with respect to a research project come into conflict with their obligations to individual patients. The ethical conduct of research rests on 3 guiding principles: respect for persons, beneficience, and justice. Respect for persons underlies the duty to obtain informed consent from study participants. Beneficence demands a favourable balance between the potential benefits and harms of participation. Justice requires that vulnerable people not (...) be exploited and that eligible candidates who may benefit from participation not be excluded without good cause. Studies must be designed in a way that ensures the validity of findings and must address questions of sufficient importance to justify the risks of participation. In any clinical trial there must be genuine uncertainty as to which treatment arm offers the most benefit, and placebo controls should not be used if effective standard therapies exist. Researchers have a responsibility to inform themselves about the ethical, legal and policy standards that govern their activities. When difficulties arise, they should consult the existing literature and seek the advice of experts in research ethics. (shrink)
This authoritative Handbook brings together experts with backgrounds in philosophy, sociology, law, public policy and the health professions and reflects the increasing impact of globalization and the dynamic advances in the fields of ...