Thursday, February 5, 2009

Let's slow down with the computerizing medical records idea

This is going to be a quick posting. My leg is killing me. dad is sleeping well. I need to ice my knee and try to get some swelling down.


I was happy to hear that the current government stimulus package is allowing for physician ownership of medical facilities. I understand that this change irks Rep Pete Stark (D-CA). Good. If Pete Stark is irked then it must be a good thing as opposed to a giant step towards universal health care.

You see, I think physicians and surgeons are awesome people. I want them to practice medicine in an environment that is safe and provides opportunities for the physicians to succeed.

My most pressing concern is Comrade Obama's insistence on computerization of medical records. Someone has convinced Obama that computerizing medical records will reduce errors. Huh? have we had so many errors because there is not a standardized computerization system.

First - hey federal government - you just keep your big noses outta my medical records.

Second - the potential for violations of patient privacy far outweighs any need for reduction in medical errors.

The argument in favor of computerizing medical records is that now, even as we speak, medical records are routinely being stored in computer databases that allow for efficiencies in providing treatment and in the processing of clinical and financial services. Whoopee.

However, IMHO, computerization of medical records inherently diminishes patient privacy. Specifically, there is an inherent increase in the potential for misuse, especially in the form of non-consensual secondary use of personally identifiable records.

There are no mandated legal standards for ensuring privacy and security. Organizations that store and use medical records typically make up their own rules. Oh good grief. That is a mess.

There is widespread appreciation among policy makers regarding the need for legal reform. The Health Information and Portability Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPPA) mandated that the Administration develop regulations regarding the control of medical records. The Administration has offered regulations from the Department of Health and Human Services (Standards for Privacy of Individually Identifiable Health Information; Proposed Rule 45 CFR Parts 160 through 164).

Survey data reveal what health care professionals who have access to sensitive medical records believe are the greatest threats to patients' privacy. The overlap between Administration proposals and the responses of health care professionals is striking.

I am currently taking post graduate courses in medical issues, including HIPPA. I am excited about studying the implications of computerization of medical records and patient privacy.

We all need to be concerned when the Obama Administration acts as though we need to hurry up and rush and get everyone's medical records computerized. What's the rush? What are the implications?

(I personally know the implications of breaches of medical records privacy because a portion of my mental health records - some of which are totally conjecture and wholly incorrect - were placed on the Internet by the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission. My attorney, William Moran, III of Springfield, IL, explained to me that the world should have access to that information forever so that the world can be protected from me!!! What? Yeah, I know, hard to believe Bill Moran was my attorney. I believe that all patients, even if they are attorneys who struggled with depression, have a right to privacy with respect to their medical records.)

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