Recordings made when the patient was alive
- 47. The duty of confidentiality continues after a patient has died. Guidance on disclosures after a patient’s death is included in Confidentiality.21 You should follow a patient’s known wishes after their death. For example, if a recording was made with the patient’s consent for a specific purpose, such as research or training, or for broadcast in a documentary, you may use the recording in accordance with the patient’s consent where you have no reason to believe that consent was withdrawn before they died. You may use anonymous recordings made when the patient was alive (see paragraph 17).
48. However, if the recordings will be in the public domain or the patient is identifiable, you will need to consider whether the patient’s family should be consulted; for example, if a recording includes information about a genetic condition, or other information about the patient’s family. Where this is the case you should seek legal advice from your employing or contracting body or from your medical defence organisation.22
- 49. Post-mortem examinations are governed by legislation in the UK.23 You should ensure that you comply with the law and follow any relevant code of practice.
50. Recordings may form an integral part of a post-mortem examination and separate consent is not needed for making recordings of organs, body parts, or pathology slides to assist in the determination of the cause of death. However information for relatives about the post-mortem examination should include an explanation of why a recording may need to be made.
- 51. If you wish to make recordings of the body, organs or tissue during a post-mortem examination, for a secondary purpose such as teaching or research, you should seek consent at the same time as you seek consent to undertake the examination. If you have not foreseen this possibility, you may make recordings (including photographs of pathology slides) for secondary purposes without consent, provided that they do not include images that might identify the person.
52. You do not need consent to use recordings for secondary purposes provided that the recordings are anonymised before use; for guidance on recordings of deceased patients that may be published in the public domain, see paragraph 48.
53. For coroner’s post-mortem examinations, you should check with the coroner or Procurator Fiscal before taking images of tissue during a post-mortem examination for purposes other than those authorised by the coroner or Procurator Fiscal.
21Further information about disclosures after a patient's death is set out in paragraphs 70-72 of Confidentiality.
22The Information Commissioner's Office provides guidance on managing information about the deceased (pdf).23
The Human Tissue Act 2004
provides the framework for the regulation of human tissue in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Scotland has its own Human Tissue (Scotland) Act 2006
. The Human Tissue Authority publishes the Code of Practice 3 – Post mortem examinations (2009)
and the Code of Practice 1 – Consent (2009)