Archived: WMA Statement on the Use of Computer in Medicine

Based on Resolution adopted by the 27th World Medical Assembly, Munich Federal Republic of Germany, October 1973
and amended by the 35th World Medical Assembly Venice, Italy, October 1983
and rescinded at the WMA General Assembly, Pilanesberg, South Africa, 2006

The WORLD MEDICAL ASSOCIATION, having taken note of the great advances and advantages resulting from the use of computers and electronic data processing in the field of health, especially in patient care and epidemiology, makes the following recommentations:

  1. National medical associations should take all possible steps to insure the privacy, the security and confidentiality of information on their patients;
  2. It is not a breach of confidentiality to release or transfer confidential health care information required for the purpose of conducting scientific research, management audits, financial audits, program evaluations, or similar studies, provided the information released does not identify, directly or indirectly, any individual patient in any report of such research, audit or evaluation, or otherwise disclosed patient identities in any manner;
  3. National medical associations should oppose any effort to enact legislation on electronic data processing which could endanger or undermine the right of the patient to privacy, security and confidentiality. Effective safeguards against unauthorized use or retransmission of social security numbers and other personal information must be assured before such information enters the computer;
  4. Medical data banks should never be linked to other central data banks.