Ie: Hospital keeps secret DNA file

Mark Tighe reports:

A Dublin hospital has built a database containing the DNA of almost every person born in the country since 1984 without their knowledge in an apparent breach of data protection laws.

The  in Temple Street is under investigation by the Data Protection Commissioner (DPC) since The Sunday Times discovered it has a policy of indefinitely keeping blood samples taken to screen newborn babies for diseases.

Unknown to the DPC, the hospital has amassed 1,548,300 blood samples from “heel prick tests” on newborns which are sent to it for screening, creating, in effect, a secret national DNA database. The majority of hospitals act on implied or verbal consent and do not inform parents what happens to their child’s sample.

Read more in The Times Online.

T.J. McIntryre comments on the story on IT Law in Ireland:

…. In light of these controversies elsewhere, the lack of informed consent and the fact that there is no legal basis for the heel prick tests (a point confirmed in North Western Health Board v. HW and CW) it’s hard to see how Temple Street could have believed that it was entitled to hold onto these samples indefinitely – and it is remarkable that this point appears to have been missed by the ethics committee on four separate occasions.

Photo of hospital © Copyright David Hawgood and licensed for use under Creative Commons License.

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