Sunday, March 8, 2009

BRITISH MEDICAL JOURNAL PUBLISHES WARNING OF "STAGGERING" CONSEQUENCE OF SHARING MEDICAL RECORDS

While the British bill is different than Obama's it raises similar concerns. The America media has not touched this issue.

British Medical Journal -
The health consequences of the government's new data-sharing proposals could be "staggering" warns an expert in an editorial.

Dr Vivienne Nathanson, Director of Professional Activities at the British Medical Association expresses concerns about the Coroners and Justice Bill which, in its current form, appears to grant the government unprecedented powers to access people's confidential medical records, and share them with third parties.

Simply it means that laws that currently limit health data sharing could be set aside, says Dr Nathanson. Even the Venereal Diseases Regulations and the provisions of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act would not be immune to the potential for removal.

Health data is not privileged in the manner of legal information, but for many years it has been recognised as special, and as sensitive, she writes. Research shows that patients expect the health professional with whom they share information will hold it in confidence, and share it sparingly and on a need to know basis, usually those also involved in offering them care.

Yet Dr Nathanson believes that data in the current draft of the bill suggests blindness to the special sensitivity of health data.

If the current draft legislation goes through with minimal changes, the effect could be to to undermine doctor and patient confidence in the future control of data that neither is willing to record the most sensitive information, she warns.

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