Stolen medical records

coastal writes “I saw the news on Slashdot this morning that hundreds of thousands of medical records belonging to Oregon patients were stolen.

The Slashdot article is here: 37222&
Scathing editorial here: /C426/L426

Unfortunately, poor data security procedures are probably fairly common within the medical industry, except (I hope) in large hospitals. With the coming rush to implement Electronic Medical Records even in small physician practices, theft of data could occur more frequently. EMR is an exciting technology, but I fear that while giving better access, it will give patients less privacy and less control over their own records. If we should ever have such a system as a national EMR share system(and I don’t doubt that we could after billions of dollars and a couple of decades) I see it being used as much by insurance companies to deny claims based on pre-existing conditions, as much as it would be used by doctors to assist in diagnosis, and by patients to manage their own health.

HIPAA. HIPAA is an important effort and I think it has the right idea, but has it actually provided any benefits to patients? Don’t most patients sign a waiver that gives the care provider authorization to release records to basically anyone? Based only on observations, it seems to me that many health care workers see HIPAA regulations as an obstacle to doing their jobs.

Okay, enough ranting. Any medical librarians to the rescue?