While donation schemes with dedicated regulatory frameworks have made it relatively easy to donate blood, organs or tissue, it is virtually impossible to donate one’s own medical data. The lack of appropriate framework to govern such data donation makes it practically difficult to give away one’s data, even when this would be within the current limits of the law. Arguments for facilitation of such a process have been advanced but so far have not been implemented. Discussions on the ethics of using medical data tend to take a system-centric perspective and focus on what researchers and the health service may or may not do with data that are placed within their trust. Rarely, if ever, is the question of the data subjects preferences addressed beyond practical matters of obtaining valid consent. This constitutes an important omission in the ethical debate, which this volume seeks to address.
The book contains the proceedings of the two workshops held in Oxford, and some additional highly relevant contributions. It seeks to provide a timely analysis of the ethical use of existing personal medical data.