Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Health Record Paparazzi is Above the Law and In Bed With Congress

We learned today that all of us are a bit like George Clooney: the Health Record Paparazzi loves a celebrity, but it loves the average American just as well. Instead of intrusive cameras flashing and TMZ taping our every move, we have insurers, employers, hospitals, doctors, pharmacies, drug companies, marketers, creditors and banks digging around for our most personal, intimate information.

HIPAA protects no one, including movie stars. The HIPAA regulations were changed by a Bush appointee that defy the ancient doctor-patient promise that when a patient goes to their doctor, whatever they share will be kept private. No one can make that guarantee anymore. To see the fine print visit Patient Privacy Rights.

Over 4 million individuals and businesses can see and use our health records, without consent and over objections. HIPAA is so broad it is hard to imagine who doesn’t have a legal right to your most personal details.

The Health Record Paparazzi can be stopped -- but only by an act of Congress. Right now, Congress is working on legislation that will open up your health records even more. Everyone will have control over your health information except the patient.

We must have federal legislation that guarantees our right to control our most personal information and requires meaningful, enforceable penalties for everyone who shares our information without consent.


flcush said...

I'm NOT a movie star, but MORE than this has already happened to me!!!!

Cascadia - Consultant said...

We already know that more then 30% of fortune 500 companies use health care data in hiring and promotions. This happens because many of the largest companies are self insured and are exempt from federal insurance laws.

The technology is already in place to keep a patients life long medical record and there are already cases of people who have been treated for illnesses like depression no longer being able to obtain health insurance in the future. This even happens in states where insurance companies aren't required to cover the condition.

Dr Peal is ahead of the curve.

Dr. Reed D. Gelzer said...

What we seem to neglect, and what Dr. Peel is on to, is that our "self" now includes our representation in the digital world. What electronic systems say we are-even if wrong, becomes fact for an individual to then disprove.

I believe that, in time, law and constitutional protections will be be extended to our digital selves, but only if vigorous public voices articulate the issues loudly and repeatedly, in a manner that cannot be ignored. Without vigorous and continuous resistance, business and governmental interests in keeping our digital selves cheaply and readily accessible, without the "nuisance" of individual control, will dominate.

On the other hand, individuals themselves will have to show they are willing and able to accept the additional burdens of protecting the integrity of their digital self. Finding ways to communicate succinctly and effectively with the community at large represents a huge challenge that, again, public voices like Dr. Peels can help immensely.

Best of luck to you Dr. Peel and to us all laboring in these efforts.

Advocates for Documentation Integrity and Compliance

Ben Wright said...

Maybe "terms of use" could help patients protect the privacy of their health records.

DRX said...

I can't tell you how 'on the money' you are. I recommend all of your readers and like-minded individuals check on protecting themselves in a definitive way. Keep up the good fight on all your committees and in all your meetings!

erdoc85 said...

Patient privacy is our duty as physicians. I never had a problem with patient privacy and I carry all sorts of secrets around in my head.

HIPAA has made medical care much more difficult for all of the actual health care PROVIDERS, not the health care POLICY MAKERS. Those damn forms drive everyone crazy.

Before HIPAA, I could call a pharmacy and find out what meds my unresponsive ER patient is I can't do that.

Before HIPAA, I could call the other local ED and find out if an unusual case with severe pain and no obvious cause and had been "a regular over there". But the drug seekers know that they can use the over-reaching HIPAA crap to protect their "privacy" (even though they're deceiving every medical provider that they encounter).

Before HIPAA, I would get regular updates from hospitals to whom I transferred patients to get follow up on the patient's course, usually learning a great deal from the more. Doctors and nurses at referral hospitals won't even talk to you about a patient any more.

Yeah, HIPAA is great. Sure, what we all need is MORE government involvement. Can't we learn the lesson about how a law gets passed for one intent, ends up having major unintended consequences, and the law doesn't even do a good job dealing with the issue it was passed to address. How many more examples of this wrong-headed thinking do we need to figure out that the government doesn't "fix" things.

People like you try to ride the wave into a seat at the policy table.

We need more doctors and fewer policy makers. If you really want to help people, go take care of them, and uphold your oath to keep your patient confidentiality, like the rest of us do. We need LESS governmental oversight, regulation, law, and policy.

Rogue Medic said...

Dr. Peel jumps to the conclusion that the patients being described are individuals and not composites, that they are easy to identify and that the information about the patients has not been changed to make identification essentially impossible.

I dare Dr. Peel to identify any patient from my site. I have been using the pseudonym "Deborah Peel" for all of my patients and for some of my coworkers since her appearance on NPR.

How does a physician mass diagnose people without ever meeting them?

How does a physician prescribe treatment to people based on that fraudulent diagnosis?

Medical professionalism is completely absent from her behavior, yet she accuses others of being unprofessional and inappropriate.

Where does she find any evidence that blogs are any more of a threat to patient privacy than medical books?

House of God, MASH, Awakenings, ...

There are many books that have been written on medical topics that do not always put the patient in the best light. Where is her outrage?

Where is the concern for the privacy of these patients?

Perhaps she does not read books and is unaware of the phenomenon of bound volumes of printed pages compiled for entertainment or even education.

What about television?

ER has all sorts of information about patients and - horrors - you can see the patients (maybe she does not know they are only actors).

Imagine if any of those patients were to watch the TV show and recognize their own medical case being portrayed on screen.

If you want less than positive portrayals of patients and staff, what about House, MD?

She probably does not understand the sarcasm.

Dr. Deborah Peel should be reported to the state medical board for her on air medical malpractice. She should also be continuously ridiculed for her blatant hypocrisy.

Or, maybe I am wrong and she is the answer to all of the world's problems.