A paper containing three case reports of the same disease was accepted for publication. The disease reported is fairly rare. The parents of one of the cases consented to publication on condition that their daughter was referred to in the paper by her first name rather than as a case number. This particular case has been discussed in the course of a national inquiry, but it is not clear whether the other two cases were discussed. If the editor publishes this paper, the identity of the other two cases might be revealed if he respects the wishes of the parents. What does COPE advise?
Informed consent must be sought from the relatives of the other two cases. The editor should approach the authors to this effect. _ The fact that a national inquiry is under way is not relevant. _ The authors should also inform patients that the journal has a website and that there are regular press releases, so the case might receive wide dissemination.
The other two families had already given their consent. The authors contacted them again to alert them to possible press coverage. No objections were raised so the article was published with the patient’s name in full, as requested by the parents.