Patient confidentiality

Last revised by Assoc Prof Frank Gaillard on 14 Sep 2021

It is crucial that patient confidentiality and anonymity are maintained. Under no circumstances must information be uploaded either in the patient's presenting symptoms, case description or images themselves that could identify an individual patient. 

In short nothing in your images or description could lead to the identification of an individual. The most easily overlooked is embedded data on your images, especially ultrasound. As such, ideally, your images should have no text on them whatsoever.

Our DICOM uploading process will automatically fully anonymise your cases before they are uploaded to Radiopaedia.  

Identifiers are anything that could lead to the images being linked to a particular patient. Identifiers include (adapted from the HIPAA guidelines):

  • name
  • initials
  • date of birth
  • address, including full or partial postal code
  • telephone or fax numbers or contact information
  • e-mail addresses
  • unique identifying numbers, e.g. UR, MRN, HID
  • vehicle identifiers
  • medical device identifiers, e.g. serial numbers
  • web or internet protocol addresses containing any link to the patient
  • biometric data
  • facial photograph or comparable image, this includes photographs where facial details have been obscured 1
  • audiotapes
  • names of relatives
  • date of study

In addition please round off the patient's age to the nearest 5 years (for adults). 

Special considerations apply to cross-sectional imaging of the head and face. Uploading thin slices which include the facial soft tissues may in some cases jeopardize patient privacy. Therefore thin sections of this region should only be used when clinically relevant, and preferably narrowed down to the region where the pathology of interest is.

Rarely, there will be cases of sufficient educational value that publishing them with identifiers is in the public interest. This decision will be made by the editorial board at its absolute discretion. In these cases, a written consent form (PDF link) will need to be completed. Once approved, the case description should include a statement of consent, for example, "patient consent was obtained to publish this case”. 

We at Radiopaedia.org are pretty easy going, but when it comes to patient confidentiality issues we get really grumpy. The case will be deleted as soon as we become aware of it. No questions asked. If that was your only copy, we apologise, but you have been warned.

These issues are covered in our terms of use

As Radiopaedia.org is a collaborative project, we are unable to stop identifying information being uploaded, and we rely on contributors to abide by our terms of use. In the event that you find a case with personal information, we would be very appreciative of an email sent to [email protected] and we will remove the content immediately.

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