Ethical rules for GPS bracelets for dementia sufferers

by Paola Battista - 2013.06.27

Ethical guidelines to regulate the use of GPS tracking devices used to locate people with dementia have been published in France. Developed by the National Committee for Rights and Welfare (CNBD) and by the minister Michèle Delaunay, the document proposes new guidelines for a “more balanced and judicious” use of bracelets that can be used to find people who are at risk of getting lost. The principles in the document include the following: use of the device must be part of a personalised treatment plan of the person's needs, which is continually re-evaluated and justified by a medical examination that confirms the device to be necessary. The patient must also be informed about the device, taking account of his or her intellectual faculties, and must give his or her consent. Any repeated attempt to disengage from the device must be understood as a rejection by the patient, which should be respected to protect his or her freedom of movement and human dignity as well as the universal right to privacy. Finally, the bracelet must not become a stigma and must not lower the person's quality of life. The French minister stated that the bracelet must be used to lower risks and to enable rapid intervention if the person is in danger, while at the same time respecting that person's independence.

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