20 January 2011

Keep it private, dammit

There is just some stuff one just doesn't do in research.

Like lie. Or be sneaky about tweaking data. Or making shit up.

I try my hardest to be responsible in my research. I keep a lab notebook, I try to make sure credit is given where credit is due, if I removed a data point, I say so and why I did it. It's not just about maintaining a good reputation and making sure that you are above reproach, but it's also about being a good steward to the field of science.

My anal retentive attitude about my keeping own personal information private resonates with the perfectly logical and ethical standards of clinical research. Specifically about keeping private information out of the paws of people who have no damn business seeing it. Clinical researchers are expected to maintain patient privacy at all times, for damn good reasons. These rules are wonderful, I fully support them. Clinical researchers should hold themselves to these high ethical standards because people depend on us.

So imagine my delight and surprise to find that my husband's personal information was in a dental student's bookbag. Said bookbag was stolen. Who am I mad at? The neurologically-challenged student? Yes. He was pretty stupid. But I am even more mad at the backwards system in place. The system for allowing a student, probably untrained in HIPAA rules, to carry around patient information in clearly unprotected environments. Why is it necessary, in this day and age, to carry around papers with patient information. Get a fucking encrypted database.

This incident is especially irritating because of the high standards we have in place for clinical research. Why should students be allowed to carry around this information when there are rules, and systems, for maintaining patient confidentiality?

1 comment:

tiff said...


This is asinine - nobody should be carrying around that info, much less a student!