Truth Before Dishonor

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The privacy of our medical records

Posted by Dana Pico on 2011/09/10

From Tania of Midnight Blue:

One of the taxpayer funded mandates of Obamacare is the formation of a centralized medical record system. While it can streamline some aspects of care, it can lead to the mother of all ‘wikileaks’ regarding sensitive medical records. Here is just a peek at what that may look like – a California hospital discovered its protected patient data had been posted to a website for over a year.

This was, I’m sure, just a mistake, although a mistake which allows people’s medical records to be available online, to anyone, for over a year is one heck of a goof! And while it was a mistake, perhaps our readers will recall that I told you so, seven months ago:

The head of the Cleveland Clinic was both praised and criticized when he mused in an interview two years ago that, were it not illegal, he would expand the hospital policy (to deny employment to smokers) to refuse employment to obese people.

I noted here this article:

Obesity Rating for Every American Must Be Included in Stimulus-Mandated Electronic Health Records, Says HHS

By Matt Cover, Staff Writer

( – New federal regulations issued this week stipulate that the electronic health records — that all Americans are supposed to have by 2014 under the terms of the stimulus law that President Barack Obama signed last year — must record not only the traditional measures of height and weight, but also the Body Mass Index: a measure of obesity.

The obesity-rating regulation states that every American’s electronic health record must: “Calculate body mass index. Automatically calculate and display body mass index (BMI) based on a patient’s height and weight.”

The law also requires that these electronic health records be available — with appropriate security measures — on a national exchange.

The new regulations are one of the first steps towards the government’s goal of universal adoption of electronic health records (EHRs) by 2014, as outlined in the 2009 economic stimulus law. Specifically, the regulations issued on Tuesday by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Dr. David Blumenthal, the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, define the “meaningful use” of electronic records. Under the stimulus law, health care providers — including doctors and hospitals — must establish “meaningful use” of EHRs by 2014 in order to qualify for federal subsidies. After that, they will be subjected to penalties in the form of diminished Medicare and Medicaid payments for not establishing “meaningful use” of EHRs.

Now, just think of it: our mandated electronic health records must have a Body Mass Index calculation included. Given that a physician can see whether you are obese or not just by looking at you, and people are routinely weighed when they visit the doctor, I can see no medical reason to require that the health records automatically calculate BMI unless the government wants that to be something searchable. Now remember, “The law also requires that these electronic health records be available — with appropriate security measures — on a national exchange.” The head of the Cleveland Clinic said that he’d refuse to hire fat people if it was legal, yet, as the head of a medical institution, his organization would be one of those with the access to people’s electronic health records.

“Hey, Sandy, we have a résumé from Joe Schmuckatella, and it looks good; check his BMI before we give him a call, OK?”

Mr Schmuckatella might never get that call, and, never having been called in for an interview, there’s no evidence he was discriminated against for eating too many Doritos® unless someone in Human Resources squeals.

Now, if the “law also requires that these electronic health records be available — with appropriate security measures — on a national exchange,” that means that anyone who can figure out how to bypass those “appropriate security measures” can get to your records, and the public posting misgoof shows that security isn’t all that tight even before the law kicks in. As for records being unhackable, give me a break: if the records were available online now, and Mitt Romney ever sought a prescription for Viagra, you can guarantee his opponents would find that out and let everybody know he needed “help.” If Michelle Bachmann ever saw a shrink, the records would be found, and published by her political opponents. It’s pretty obvious that there are no secrets anymore.
cross posted on Common Sense Political Thought.


One Response to “The privacy of our medical records”

  1. […] pretty obvious that there are no secrets anymore. _________________________ Cross posted on Truth Before Dishonor Filed under Health care, I told you so! Comment (RSS)  |  Trackback […]


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