Medical Privacy

Study Guide

1.   Catalysts

o        Most people require a certain amount of privacy.  Everyone holds a certain information about themselves to be personal and to be shared with only people whom they trust.  This is the major cause of medical privacy issue.  Because doctors’ offices and hospitals keep records on each of their clients, the issue becomes, who has a right to access these records.  The widespread use of databases and other technology to maintain this data has caused the medical privacy issue to blow up at an even greater rate.  Now, not only do insurance companies and billing agencies have access to your medical records, but hackers can now access them also.

o        How private is your medical information?

o        Medical Privacy Rules Give Patients and Marketers Access to Health Data

o        Do hackers have access to your medical records?

o        How does technology increase the concern for medical privacy?


2.   Laws

Medical laws have been put into place for patient privacy protection.  Under the Clinton Administration, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 was administered.  Since then, there have been man amendments to the act, the most noteable being one of Clinton’s last actions as president.  On Dec. 28, 2000, Clinton administered changes to the HIPAA of 1996.  These changes gave patients unprecedented rights to track their medical files.  It implemented new criminal and civil sactions for improper disclosure of medical records and it protects against unauthorized use of medical records for employment purposes.  Although this last act gave patients unprecedented access and control of their medical records, some are not satisfied. 

o        Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996

o        Debate over HIPAA

o        Does HIPAA give patients enough protection?

o        Other proposed privacy protection acts

o        Are there any privacy concerns these proposals do not take care of?


3.   Genetic Mapping

More than 40 U.S. states have laws requiring hospitals to make available to insurance companies and researchers certain information about each visit they receive.  With this information, hospital records can be obtained and all sorts of genetic testing can be done.  This becomes extremely controversial because the laws are vague about what constitutes a research group.

o        Concerns heightened by Genome Mapping

o        Guard your genetic data from those prying eyes

o        What are the ethical implications of genome mapping?


4.   Technology

o        How are the new laws affecting technology?

o        What are the new laws imposing on technology companies?

o        How can technology companies help protect patient’s privacy?