Coalition Pushing To Include Patient Privacy Provisions In EHR Legislation

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Electronic Health Records


A bipartisan coalition of lawmakers and private companies called onCongress to pass legislation that would protect electronic healthrecords from potential misuse and identity theft, the Washington Times reports. The Patient Privacy Rights coalition -- which includes Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.), the Family Research Council and Microsoft-- says EHR legislation being debated in the House and Senate wouldallow data mining companies and "four million other individuals andentities" to secretly access private medical records.

CoalitionChair Deborah Peel said, "If you think we've got a problem withidentity theft now, just wait." According to Peel, the group's concernis that data mining firms could sell private medical information, whichcould be used by potential employers and health care providers todiscriminate against people with mental health or other chronicillnesses. Peel said she supports efforts to increase the use of EHRs,but Congress at the same time must provide the same level of privacyprotection that is given to members of the military.

Markeysaid that "tough privacy safeguards" are essential for integratedhealth databases, which hold "probably the most sensitive and personalinformation that we have about ourselves. Without strong privacysafeguards, a health (information-technology) database will become anopen invitation for identity thieves, fraudsters, extortionists ormarketers looking to cash in on our medical histories" (Pfeiffer, Washington Times, 10/18).

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