Difficulty in obtaining patient consent
An article describing three similar cases was submitted to Journal A. The author was asked to provide evidence of the patients’ consent for their details to be used in the paper. The author replied that all the patients’ personal details in the report had been anonymised and that signed consent would destroy this. Also, two of the three patients had since died and correspondence could be distressing for the relatives. The editor explained the importance of consent and that she would be happy to accept a signed letter from the author confirming that consent had been obtained for publication of all three cases. The author had obtained permission from the living patient and also from the relatives of one of the patients who had recently died. The relatives of the other patient could not be traced. The patient’s wife had also died and there were no children. The editors accepted this explanation and peer reviewed the article for possible publication.
_ Legally, permission is required from the living unless they are under 16 or incapacitated. _ Relatives have no place in giving permission on behalf of deceased patients. _ The explanation from the authors was, however, deemed acceptable as it was agreed that they had gone as far as possible and had acted courteously.
No further action required.