Ethical Problems Generated by the use of Informatics in Medicine


Porfirio Barroso


The Computer Ethics Conference, Linköping University, Sweden, 1997 (Taken from: Ethics and Information Technology, Edited by Göran Collste, pp 159-180, ISBN 91-7219-680-7)


The advent of information technology and computers in medicine three decades ago posed a new set of ethical problems. In recent years, these problems have been compounded by the increasing use of computers for supporting clinical decisions as well as record keeping and so on. And thus, ethicists, lawyers, computer scientist, clinicians, and patients must confront a group of ethical problems: In what situations is it appropriate to use a medical computer program? Who should use these programs and how should they be used? What is the ethical status of a computer program that provides medical advice? Can a proper balance be achieved between confidentiality of patient information and shared access to records by health care personnel? How can society, physicians, and patients determine if a program is safe for human use? Will programs be able to communicate with users well enough to prevent clinically harmful misunderstandings? Because few if any definitive answers are yet available the need to create Deontological Codes was defended, taking as an example the HIDEC Health Informaticians Deontology Code in order to avoid or try to solve these kinds of problems.