Confidentiality challenges surrounding plasma therapy during the COVID-19 pandemic: a case discussion in Iran
Maintaining confidentiality, both in national and international codes of ethics, is considered an important principle in healthcare and the medical profession for both patients and physicians. This case-report article focused on a real case. Based on the request of the Iranian Blood Transfusion Organization (IBTO) for plasma donation from recovered COVID-19 patients, we asked the names and personal information of those patients from hospitals affiliated with Iran University of Medical Sciences (IUMS) and arranged for the subjects to be referred to the Medical Ethics Department of IUMS for consultation during the COVID-19 pandemic. Various ethical and legal aspects of this case were discussed in a special meeting, and practical solutions were then provided considering the limits of confidentiality and conditions for ethical access to patients’ information during a pandemic.
Since plasma therapy is not a definitive cure for COVID-19 and considering the ethical and legal points presented in this article, it is not recommended to announce the names of patients in the early stages. Given the potential impacts of the procedure and the possibility of patients being cured, however, their consent should be obtained in different situations and, if necessary, providing information to patients or educating them should be considered.
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