Pathology biobanks are vital assets for medical care and treatment of current and future patients. In association with good clinical data they are also useful for biomedical research regarding the underlying mechanisms of human disease. Recent regulations have suggested the obtainment of a specific and explicit informed consent as a prerequisite for using human tissue samples with these ends in mind. However, the choice and strict use of informed consent for balancing conflicting interests associated with biobank-related research can in practice be detrimental to patient safety with regard to diagnosis, medical care and treatment. In this article I argue that a 'safety principle' should have priority and suggest how this could be implemented in clinical practice and in association with biomedical research.
(c) 2007 S. Karger AG, Basel.