Then There's The Medical Records Privacy Issue
January 6, 2000
In the Information Age, patients are finding it increasingly difficult to keep their medical records private -- and there is a multitude of horror stories to prove it. People whose medical secrets have entered the public domain have been publicly humiliated and even lost their jobs, according to reports.
- Fifty-six percent of adults say there is no good way to keep sensitive records secret -- and 15 percent say they have done something extraordinary to keep their secrets.
- Sixty percent trust doctors, hospitals and other health professionals to safeguard their records from prying eyes -- while only 35 percent trust their health plans and 33 percent trust Medicare and similar government programs, according to Princeton Survey Research Associates.
- In October, President Clinton proposed to grant patients more rights to see, correct and request who has seen their records while permitting health-care providers to share information -- without their consent -- to fulfill treatment, payment, public health and necessary business uses.
- Critics say that misses the point completely -- since it doesn't address the fundamental privacy issue in any meaningful way.
The Clinton administration's efforts to put into effect a national medical ID system only compounds the problem, critics say.
Persons who are deeply concerned about their privacy have been known to seek treatment outside their employer's health plan -- and pay for the costs out-of-pocket. Fearing an invasion of their privacy, others simply avoid seeking medical services at all.
Source: Daniel J. Murphy, "Can You Keep a Medical Secret?" Investor's Business Daily, January 6, 2000.
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