Sometimes an academic hospital will request access to patients’ details for a comparison of this data with that of other hospitals in order to study the results of a certain treatment.
Such a request may be granted, on strict conditions: a specialist may only give a researcher data in anonymous form, so that the researcher cannot trace the details back to a particular patient. Patients are not asked permission for the use of this data.
Patients may object to the use of anonymous data by informing their practitioner of their objection; the practitioner will register this objection in the patient’s medical file.
If a researcher wants to read the medical files of one or more patients, the patient or patients must be asked for their permission in advance. In this case, the data can be traced back to certain patients at the time of reading but the data will be further processed in anonymous form. This requires the patient to sign a form in which is stated that there is no objection to the researcher in question reading the file. The patient can therefore decide whether or not to give permission.
Even if a patient initially agrees and makes an objection at a later time, the permission can still be withdrawn.