Sharing electronic records: separating out the signals from ethical white noise.
The development of shared electronic records has been galvanised by initiatives to improve the information technology infrastructure of healthcare and by fragmentation of healthcare provision. This report uses a public discussion by the RCGP Ethics Committee, Patient Participation Group and the Informatics Group to review key issues relating to shared electronic healthcare records. These records may be a social necessity, and ethical and legal safeguards may allay some public and professional anxiety about their appropriate use. Many of the specific ethical concerns, such as confidentiality of healthcare information, are not new but how these concerns arise in context may be. Function creep was a key concern in the discussion.