Re: Patient consent

I read with interest the recent letter to the editor by the listeriosis patient, the response from the authors, and the editorial note.[1]

There was an apology regarding patient consent for publication from the editor-in-chief of a different journal 10 years ago.[2,3]

It is a good idea to have in place a written consent from a patient whose case history is being published. However, caution should be exercised for too strict a guideline.

The author reported a case of Munchausen’s syndrome presenting as prevarication anaphylaxis.[4] This report and other interesting cases from our psychiatry colleagues may not be published if the guideline on patient consent for publication is strictly followed.

—H.C. George Wong, MD Vancouver


1. Tetu M. Listeriosis patient speaks out. BCMJ 2008;50:492.
2. Hoey J. Patient consent for publication—an apology. CMAJ 1998;159:503-504.
3. Wong HCG. Signed consent for publication. CMAJ 1999;160:315.
4. Wong HCG. Munchausen’s syndrome presenting as prevarication anaphylaxis. Can J Allergy Clin Immunol 1999;4:299-300.

H.C. George Wong, MD, FRCPC. Re: Patient consent. BCMJ, Vol. 51, No. 1, January, February, 2009, Page(s) 8 - Letters.

Above is the information needed to cite this article in your paper or presentation. The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) recommends the following citation style, which is the now nearly universally accepted citation style for scientific papers:
Halpern SD, Ubel PA, Caplan AL, Marion DW, Palmer AM, Schiding JK, et al. Solid-organ transplantation in HIV-infected patients. N Engl J Med. 2002;347:284-7.

About the ICMJE and citation styles

The ICMJE is small group of editors of general medical journals who first met informally in Vancouver, British Columbia, in 1978 to establish guidelines for the format of manuscripts submitted to their journals. The group became known as the Vancouver Group. Its requirements for manuscripts, including formats for bibliographic references developed by the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM), were first published in 1979. The Vancouver Group expanded and evolved into the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE), which meets annually. The ICMJE created the Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing, and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals to help authors and editors create and distribute accurate, clear, easily accessible reports of biomedical studies.

An alternate version of ICMJE style is to additionally list the month an issue number, but since most journals use continuous pagination, the shorter form provides sufficient information to locate the reference. The NLM now lists all authors.

BCMJ standard citation style is a slight modification of the ICMJE/NLM style, as follows:

  • Only the first three authors are listed, followed by "et al."
  • There is no period after the journal name.
  • Page numbers are not abbreviated.

For more information on the ICMJE Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing, and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals, visit

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