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Medicine and Public Policy |

Ethical and Legal Issues Related to the Use of Computer Programs in Clinical Medicine

RANDOLPH A. MILLER, M.D.; KENNETH F. SCHAFFNER, Ph.D.; and ALAN MEISEL, J.D.
[+] Article and Author Information

Grant support: by grants R01-LM-03710 from the National Library of Medicine and R24-RR-01101 from the Division of Research Resources of the National Institutes of Health (Dr. Miller); the National Science Foundation's EVIST program, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Arthur Vining Davis Foundation (Dr. Schaffner); and Clinical Research Center Grant MH-30915 from the National Institute of Mental Health and a University of Pittsburgh School of Law research stipend (Prof. Meisel).

▸Requests for reprints should be addressed to Randolph A. Miller, M.D.; 1360 Scaife Hall, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine; Pittsburgh, PA 15261.


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania


©1985 American College of PhysiciansAmerican College of Physicians


Ann Intern Med. 1985;102(4):529-536. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-102-4-529
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As computer programs are used with increasing frequency in the clinical setting, ethicists, lawyers, computer scientists, clinicians, and patients must confront a group of problems: In what situations is it appropriate to use a medical computer program? Who should use these programs and how should they be used? What is the legal status of a computer program that provides medical advice? Can a proper balance be achieved between confidentiality of patient information and shared access to records by health care personnel? How can regulatory agencies, physicians, and patients determine if a program is safe for human use? Will programs be able to communicate with users well enough to prevent clinically harmful misunderstandings? Because few if any definitive answers are yet available, these questions remain the subject of much discussion.

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