Syndromic Surveillance and Patients as Victims and Vectors

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Abstract

Syndromic surveillance uses new ways of gathering data to identify possible disease outbreaks. Because syndromic surveillance can be implemented to detect patterns before diseases are even identified, it poses novel problems for informed consent, patient privacy and confidentiality, and risks of stigmatization. This paper analyzes these ethical issues from the viewpoint of the patient as victim and vector. It concludes by pointing out that the new International Health Regulations fail to take full account of the ethical challenges raised by syndromic surveillance.

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