Junkfood Science: More grabs for private medical records

March 21, 2008

More grabs for private medical records

Another example of medical record grabs, this time by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was announced this week. Government Health IT reported that the CDC is funding three large biosurveillance networks, investing $38 million over the next five years. According to Health Data Management, it will facilitate the sharing of private medical records with governmental departments. The contracts are part of the Department of Health and Human Services’ initiatives towards a national health information network.

Besides collecting public health data from health care providers, said Lori Evans, deputy New York State health commissioner in charge of the Office of Health Information Technology Transformation, the network will keep public health authorities informed on incidences of reportable diseases.

Citizens' Council on Health Care issued a statement today saying this move is a violation of patient’s Fourth Amendment privacy rights against unreasonable search and seizure:

This is not about bioterrorism. The government's real intent is 24/7 surveillance of people through their medical records.

The CDC, along with state health departments, intend to gain electronic access to medical records for the purpose of surreptitiously conducting research and 'sentinel surveillance' not just on infectious diseases, but on any medical condition they choose, including chronic or genetic diseases. Because of the so-called HIPAA privacy rule, no patient consent is required... The HIPAA privacy rule has subverted the individual's constitutional privacy rights, not protected them.

A surveillance network might seem like a good idea, at first glance, if it weren’t for the other examples of the CDC and government agencies behaving badly when it comes to protecting the privacy and use of our private medical information.

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