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Northern Genetics Service

Clinical Genetics and Photography

This information has been designed to give a brief overview of the use of photography by the Northern Genetics Service. If you have any questions or if you would like to discuss anything in further detail, please feel free to ask your genetics doctor or nurse.

The Clinical Genetics department routinely takes photographs of many people we are asked to see. Photographs are often one of the most important “tests” we do. We always ask for permission to take photographs, and your agreement is called ‘consent’.

Why do we take photographs?

There are lots of reasons:

  • It can help us make/rule out a diagnosis.
  • We may need to discuss the photographs with our colleagues locally and sometimes nationally to help us make a diagnosis.
  • Photographs are part of your medical record.
  • Sometimes we take photographs for teaching purposes.
  • Sometimes we take photographs for publication.

What happens to the photograph of me/my child once it has been taken?

  • We use digital photographs as we can store many more images using this method than was possible in the past.
  • Photographs are stored as image files on an NHS database held at the Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle upon Tyne.
  • The database is not accessible from the Internet.
  • Each image is given a unique identification number. There is no way of identifying you from the name of the image file.

Am I allowed to see the photographs?

You can view the digital images as they are being taken if you wish. If you wish to see the images in the future, this can be arranged.

Why do the genetic doctors need to take repeat photographs at different appointments?

Faces change as they get older. Sometimes we can’t make a diagnosis in a young child but as the child’s face changes with age the diagnosis becomes more obvious.

What about teaching and publication?

The Northern Genetics Service has a role in teaching both doctors and other health care professionals at undergraduate and postgraduate level. We may ask for your consent to take photographs for teaching purposes.

We may occasionally ask for you consent to include photographs in published material such as medical journals or medical textbooks.

In both cases, the photographs will be used anonymously, so that your identity is withheld. It is entirely up to you whether you agree to either of these. If you decide not to, you may be reassured that your decision will not affect the quality of care provided by the Northern Genetics Service.

We are always happy to receive comments.

Please direct all enquiries to:

Northern Genetic Service
Institute of Genetic Medicine
Central Parkway
Newcastle upon Tyne
NE1 3BZ
Tel: 0191 241 8600 [8.30 am – 5.00 pm Monday to Friday]
Fax: 0191 241 8799


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