While there is a prima facie moral requirement to obtain consent to publish patient information, publication without patient consent may be justified if certain criteria are met. Justification will involve consideration of a variety of principles, rules and conditions grounded in ethics, law and policy. Except in exceptional circumstances of overriding importance to public health, a patient's personal information should not be published over the patient's refusal. But what constitutes "exceptional circumstances of overriding importance to public health"? We argue that medical error is one such circumstance and present an argument in favour of a specific policy stance on publication of medical errors.
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