Laws and Medical Privacy
Only 28 states allow people to see there own medical records, generally claiming the information belongs to health-care facility or practitioner that created them (1 ).
But in states like Arizona if you're legally prescribed the drugs like The pain killers OxyContin, Vicodin the sleep aid Ambien or the stimulant Ritalin the state of Arizona is storing your prescription information in state database that can be accessed by doctors and pharmacist across Arizona (2 ).
President Bush allowed medical privacy legislation go through congress. Health care providers needed to give written consent before using medical information for care. It also put limited on the disclosure of medical information for marketing. In 2002 President Bush proposed the written consent requirement be dropped (3 ).
Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) has loopholes that jeopardize patient's medical privacy. The HIPAA allows access allows access to person's medical records by people who are not subject to federal regulation or enforcement. These "business associates" are only bound by a contract wit a HIPAA entity. The entity can be in violation is it knew or suspect a violation took place (4 ).
There is a move afoot that calls for digitalizing the health care system, there are concerns though. Timothy Sparapani, ACLU Senior Legislative Counsel said "Only with proper privacy safeguards in place will the American people get behind the shift to health IT systems," and also said "If Congress is planning to spur the integration of health IT, members must remember the needs of their constituents and include protections for medical privacy. Privacy enables health IT it does not prevent it because privacy protections ensure the public will participate and utilize health IT." Michelle De Mooy, National Priorities Associate of Consumer Action reminds us "Privacy is not just a basic right for all Americans, it has become a basic necessity," and cautions "Real people are already suffering the ill effects of losing their medical privacy, including losing jobs and being victims of identity theft. Privacy protections must be at the core of Health IT to prevent this from continuing to happen."(5 ).
Research released in April 2009 showed that the cross over to electronic medical records was the slowest with the states that had the toughest medical privacy laws. The study was done by MIT and University of Virginia, it showed that 30 percent fewer hospitals in states with stringent medical privacy laws had transferred to a electronic medical records systems (6 ).
The USA Patriot Act (section 215 ) allows government agents to access medical and psychiatric records, without probable cause, all the agents have to do is say they are needed for a terror investigation. This is expected to pass and be extended the 2010 renewal (7 ).