Editorial |

Patient Privacy, Photographs, and Publication

Cody A. Koch, MD, PhD1; Wayne F. Larrabee Jr, MD1,2
[+] Author Affiliations
1Division of Facial Plastic Surgery, Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, University of Washington, Seattle
2Larrabee Center for Facial Plastic Surgery, Seattle, Washington
JAMA Facial Plast Surg. 2013;15(5):335-336. doi:10.1001/jamafacial.2013.1411.
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As physicians, our most important responsibility lies in protecting patients, which includes a patient’s right to privacy. While patients’ rights are our foremost concern, the advancement of medicine relies on collaboration and the open exchange of ideas and research. The need to collect information about patients in the course of conducting research can present challenges in maintaining patient privacy and anonymity. Never is this more evident than in the practice of facial plastic and reconstructive surgery. Studies of many disease processes rely heavily on laboratory results and/or clinical radiographs; however, the primary form of “data” in facial plastic and reconstructive surgery are often patient photographs. While identifying information can easily be removed from laboratory data, photographs of patients present a unique challenge.

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