Informed Consent Policy
Patients possess a fundamental right to privacy, which must not be violated unless they provide informed consent. Therefore, identifying information such as names, initials, or hospital numbers should not be disclosed in written descriptions, photographs, or pedigrees, unless such information is indispensable for scientific purposes and the patient (or their parent or guardian) has granted explicit, written informed consent for publication. In obtaining informed consent, it is essential that the identifiable patient is shown the manuscript intended for publication. Authors have an obligation to inform these patients if any potential identifiable material might be accessible through the Internet or in print after publication. Written consent from patients should be appropriately documented and kept on file with the journal, the authors, or both, in accordance with relevant local regulations or laws. Given that applicable laws may vary based on jurisdiction, journals should establish their own policies with guidance from legal experts. Some journals, recognizing that archiving the consent would reveal patient identity, may prefer to have authors maintain the consent documents and provide the journal with a written statement affirming that they have obtained and archived the necessary patient consent.
To safeguard patient privacy, nonessential identifying details should be omitted. In instances where doubt exists about the maintenance of anonymity, informed consent should be obtained. For instance, merely masking the eye region in patient photographs is insufficient to ensure anonymity protection. If identifying characteristics have been de-identified, authors should provide assurance, and editors should duly note, that these modifications do not compromise the scientific meaning of the work.
The requirement for informed consent should be explicitly stated in the journal's instructions for authors. Furthermore, once informed consent has been secured, it should be clearly indicated in the published article.