“Information technology” refers to automated systems for storing, processing, and distributing information. In medical practice, this involves the use of computers and communication networks to collect and store medical information and data. Ethical guidelines for data protection and privacy have become critical issues in medical ethics in the age of the Internet and information technology. Both healthcare and IT professionals face questions of responsibility, accountability, and liability in handling private information and data.
This paper discusses the tension between the problems in medical practice that may violate patients’ privacy and the effectiveness of data collection brought about by information systems. Although China has acknowledged the importance of privacy protection in past two decades, medical malpractice such as releasing patient’s medical history without informed consent or even selling medical data for commercial purpose still exists. Apart from the potential harms caused by releasing private information, there are moral issues with regard to informational inequality and discrimination. The guidelines suggested by the authors have three facets: ethical education around privacy protection, effective regulation, and responsive management of IT institutions to evaluate the effects of contemporary information systems and the Internet on the protection of individual privacy.