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Patients' Rights in Essays and News Reports in Biomedical Journals. 

Ethical and Legal Considerations

Annette Flanagin

Patients' Rights in Essays and News Reports in Biomedical Journals.

In essays and news stories in biomedical journals, descriptions and photographs of individuals are often included. However, if these descriptions or photographs depict patients or anyone in an actual patient-clinician encounter who is identifiable, the authors or writers should be asked to “deidentify” those patients. Identifying details may be omitted but may not be altered or falsified. If patients cannot be deidentified, their written informed consent must be obtained. (Box.) Fictionalized cases and reports generally should not be presented except in rare cases and unless this is made clear to readers (eg, a hypothetical case to explain a clinical scenario or a fictional essay in which it is made clear to the readers that it is fictional). In news stories, third-party photographs should not be used if they include identifiable patients, unless consent for publication has been obtained. Appropriately credited stock or staged photographs depicting patients or simulating a patient-clinician encounter are acceptable.

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