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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Sheriffs Want Access to Health Records


Every time a person goes to the doctor's office there is a file created that documents the procedures done as well as the drugs that are prescribed. One's medical record has always been completely confidential for the physicians eyes only, no one not even the authorities have access to those files - the doctor patient privilege. Technology has found its way into the doctor's office, not simply in the form of instruments, but, also in the form of digital medical records. There has been a lot of talk lately about unifying all medical records into a single database under the guise that it would help doctors treat their patients by having all the facts available right at their fingertips, as you might imagine this has become quite controversial. Not because it wouldn't help doctors, but, it might open the door for law enforcement agencies to gain access to one's medical files and allow them to compile lists of people who are prescribed various narcotics.

In an attempt to make drug arrests easier, the North Carolina Sheriffs’ Association wants access to the State prescription database to ascertain information about any person in the state who has a prescription for a narcotic pain medicine, according to a report on September 8th by The News Observer. This is exactly why patients are hesitant about having their information in any electronic database; the fear of authorities using one's medical records against them is a real fear. There is no reason why anyone other than doctors given consent should have access to your files. Another fear is that people will find away to hack these systems and use the information against you.

Addicts who enter treatment want to rest assured that the information about them stays between the patient and the doctor. If law enforcement agencies are granted access to medical files it will open a Pandora's Box and could potentially lead to access being granted to places of employment or schools which would could potentially affect patients adversely.

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