Google has gained access to a huge trove of US patient data – without the need to notify those patients – thanks to a deal with a major health firm.

The scheme, dubbed Project Nightingale, was agreed with Ascension, which runs 2,600 hospitals.

Google can access health records, names and addresses without telling patients, according to the Wall Street Journal, which first reported the news.

The tech giant said this was “standard practice”.

Among the data Google reportedly has access to under the deal are lab results, diagnoses, records of hospitalisation and dates of birth.

Neither doctors nor patients need to be told that Google can see this information.

The Wall Street Journal reports that data access began last year and was broadened over the summer.

In a blog, Google said its

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