Failure to Heed Patients’ Privacy Requests Raises ‘Big Data’ Concerns in England: Offers Lessons for How Clinical Pathology Lab Test Data Should Be Protected in U.S.

National Health Service agency admits to releasing information on 700,000 patients who opted out of nation’s new centralized medical-information database

In the United States, the debate is ongoing about how healthcare data is used while at the same time protecting patient privacy. The outcome of this debate will be increasingly important for medical laboratories because—in order to deliver more value—labs will want to combine lab test data with other sources of clinical information.

Thus, a similar debate over patient privacy and use of health data in the United Kingdom will be of interest to pathologists and clinical laboratory managers in this country. Recently, England’s National Health Service (NHS) came under fire for releasing information on about 700,000 patients against their wishes—a breach the NHS blamed on a lack of funding and “technical issues” encountered by the body responsible for overseeing the country’s big data initiative for healthcare.

700,000 Patients Opted Out of UK’s Centralized Medical Database

The Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) has admitted to Members of Parliament that medical details from as many as 700,000 patient records have been shared with organizations and companies, despite the fact that those patients opted out of NHS England’s new centralized medical database, (more…)