Ethical Dilemma at the Walk-in Clinic: Forced Consent for Medical Data Sharing

A few weeks ago, I visited my regular walk-in clinic for a checkup. I've been a longtime patient there and have always been satisfied with their care. However, during this particular visit, I was surprised to be asked to sign a consent form. This form would authorize the clinic to share my medical treatment data with external parties. I had encountered a similar situation at Triemli Hospital earlier this year, where I was able to decline the consent and still receive treatment.

Contrary to my previous experience, the walk-in clinic informed me that if I chose to decline the consent, they would not provide me with any treatment. Despite my attempts to discuss the matter with the reception staff, they were unyielding. It felt like they were coercing people into giving consent by withholding necessary treatment—an approach that I found unethical.

In the end, I reluctantly gave my consent, rationalizing that I didn't mind as long as my data didn't end up in the hands of toxic tech corporations (FAANG types). I'm curious if anyone else has encountered a similar situation recently and how they dealt with it.

I would address your concerns in a polite letter to the clinic, informing them that you are withdrawing your consent as per the Data protection act.

Should they not enforce this, next step is to speak to the data protection regulators (a nice letter, always registered, should be enough).

You can’t sign away your legal rights.

I recently signed a similar agreement but on careful reading it allowed them to share data with others that I thought they should be. For example my oncologist has monthly meetings with his colleagues where their cases are discussed.

What is important is What will be shared, When it would be shared and Why it would be shared.

But surely it would only be carefully selected partner organisations chosen for their highest standards of integrity and regard for personal privacy that they would flog your data to.

Anyway, you could try striking through any clauses you don't like. That way you might avoid some of the sales use of your data such as the clinic sending you 50% off vouchers for a colonoscopy, or two tonsils removed for the price of one, or what ever other offers they can dream up.

This.

These consent forms are now required by law. In has to do with the sharing of your medical history amongst health professionals for your benefit. This is being re-organised to take advantage of modern electronic data systems. It is another reason for having a good GP where your data is collated. There is obviously a danger of the information being passed to the "wrong" hands. IMO, this danger is being exaggerated in some circles. Access to your data is regulated. All electronic systems can be hacked - but this is a general problem in our society that we have to deal with.

Could there have been a mis-understanding? I assume Drs need to share some details with other medical agencies ie, laboratories for tests.

At a permanance you don’t necessarily see the same Doctor every time you visit. Your file needs to be shared.

Exactly. It's a new law. I've had to sign two of those consent forms in the past week -- once at a dermatologist appointment a few days ago and then today at my regular doctor's office. I think it's a good thing that medical doctors should be able to share and have access to patients' health information. Imagine if you had a heart attack or a stroke and the hospital you were taken to via ambulance needed to know if you have an underlying condition or the medication you're on, etc.

Maybe someday we'll just all have microchips implanted that contain all our data.

My GP asked me to sign one of these forms and he explained it's needed to send my stuff for lab reports, due to a change in legislation.