Nov 122016
 November 12, 2016  Posted by  Breaches, Business, Healthcare, Non-U.S.

Here’s a situation to consider:

At least two Dutch hospitals have stopped using a pre-natal test for Down’s and other syndromes after it emerged the Belgian firm carrying out the testing is using the women’s private information for commercial purposes.

Broadcaster BNR reported that the Gendia laboratory is approaching women who said on their health records there is cancer in their families about cancer screening. This, BNR says, is against both Dutch and EU privacy regulations. Amsterdam’s OLVG hospital group and the Westfries Gasthuis in Hoorn have both stopped working with the Belgian firm. ‘We do not want to be associated with this practice in any way whatsoever,’ the OLVG group said in a statement.


So…. is Gendia the only lab that conducts such testing? Will the hospitals that have stopped working with them still be able to provide testing to women?

As to Gendia’s point that it has a duty to let women know, that’s an interesting approach/defense – that they have an obligation to ignore or de-prioritize privacy in service of health. But it doesn’t fly with me. Shouldn’t the women’s primary care physicians or existing health providers be informing them of such testing if they think their patient should have it?

I respect what the hospitals are doing and the Dutch and EU privacy regulations. This is one of those situations where consent or opt-in is important to protect privacy. That said, how often do our primary care physicians fail to refer us for necessary tests or treatment evaluations? Might you actually be grateful at some point that a lab or commercial entity contacted you about their services, even if they shouldn’t have?

Just something else to think about….

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