Where Authors wish to include details or other personal information or images of patients and any other individuals in an Athena publication, appropriate consents, permissions and releases must be obtained. This policy describes the requirements for consent as well as some special considerations.
Athena International Publishing advocates anonymity and takes all the necessary steps to protect the privacy of those who participate in research. Appropriate consents, permissions and releases must be obtained where Authors wish to include case details or other personal information or images of patients and any other individuals in an Athena publication. The consent obtained should comply with all applicable laws and regulations concerning the privacy and/or security of personal information including, but not limited to, the U.S. Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) and other U.S. federal and state laws relating to privacy and security of personally identifiable information, the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (EU) 2016/679 (GDPR) and EU member state implementing legislation, Canada's Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA), India's Information Technology Act 2000 and related privacy rules (together collectively referred to as the "Data Protection and Privacy Laws"). It is the responsibility of Authors to ensure that:
Each individual, or the individual's legal guardian or other person with legal authority to act on the individual's behalf, who appears in any video, recording, photograph, image, illustration or case report (or in any other identifiable form) is made aware in advance of the fact that such photographs are being taken or such video, recording, image, illustration or report is being made, and of all the purposes for which they might be used, including disclosure to Athena International Publishing and use by Athena International Publishing or its licensees in any work or product. That individual, legal guardian or person with legal authority, must give his/her explicit written consent. If such consent is made subject to any conditions (for example, adopting measures to prevent personal identification of the person concerned), Athena International Publishing must be made aware in writing of all such conditions. Written consents must be retained by Authors and copies of these consents or any evidence that such consents have been obtained must be provided to Athena International Publishing on request.
The form of written consent complies with each requirement of all applicable Data Protection and Privacy Laws. Particular care should be taken with obtaining consent where children are concerned (in particular where a child has special needs or learning disabilities), where an individual's head or face appears, or where reference is made to an individual's name or other personal details.
In the case of a child, if parents or guardians disagree on the use of the images of that child, then consent should be deemed not to have been given and those images should not be used. It is also important to ensure that only images of children in suitable dress are used to reduce the risk of images being used inappropriately.
Even if consent has been obtained, care must be taken to ensure that the portrayal and captioning of the individual concerned are respectful and could not be seen as denigrating or degrading that individual.
Finally, it is important to note that all Authors have to follow the recommendations of the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) for the Protection of Research Participants during the planning stage, implementation stage and prior to submission of their article. In the submission cover letter or where otherwise indicated by the Editors, Authors should include a statement that human consent has been obtained. Editors will check documentation of patient consent during peer review and prior to publication and will look for any potentially identifying information. Submissions that include identifying patient information without patient consent will not be considered for publication. If identifying information is discovered after publication, the article in question will be temporarily withdrawn while any content compromising participant privacy is removed.
Special consideration must be given to ensure that:
Formal consents are not required for the use of entirely anonymized images from which the individual cannot be identified, such as x-rays, ultrasound images, pathology slides or laparoscopic images, provided that these do not contain any identifying marks and are not accompanied by text that might identify the individual concerned.
If consent has not been obtained, it is generally not sufficient to anonymize a photograph simply by using eye bars or blurring the face of the individual concerned.
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