Privacy Concerns in the Medical Industry Today

Privacy Concerns in the Medical Industry Today

Michael G. Herschel


For Professor Gary Reinke

September 12, 2010


Elaborate upon privacy issues that concern all American in the new digital age, relevant to one’s personal medical history.

            In keeping with the spirit of the new digital age, America has become crazy for all things electronic. However, the author has found many things about the moral and ethical behavior of the business-as-usual crowd that bear redress. Old-fashioned values and mores have not been supplanted by information instilled at the speed of light, except for those whom have not yet lost a job because of a medical history, been denied medical insurance, or had evidence of a physiological issue thrown across the billboard of the internet.  Of course, the firms that do not have the fear of litigation hovering like a Sword of Damocles over the boardroom, will not get the message until it is too late for them.

            The Healthcare industry has much to worry about when considering compromised patient records. According to a recent article in Biotech Week (Biotech Week, 2008), the industry’s concentration upon medical privacy and compliance has created significant and transparent data leakage.

“Healthcare facilities are complex environments where information is stored and shared in a number of ways that are critical to patient well-being,” said Brian Lapidus, chief operating officer of Kroll Fraud Solutions. “Until healthcare organizations expand their data security measures to address the threat of data compromise as well as privacy and compliance, patients will continue to be at risk.”

Patients alone share all the risk that compromised data can bring to bear upon the disenfranchised victims of medical record fraud.  It is clear; the institutions that bear the responsibility of keeping patient records safe are at great risk of litigation. In the professional journal Legal Eagle Eye Newsletter for the Nursing profession (Vol .15, 2007) A charge nurse’s employment was terminated because of a “….breach of confidentiality, co-workers’ emails, (and) charts.”  The journal noted that it was in violation of the institution’s policies protecting the confidentiality of colleagues email accounts and computer terminals.

            Public health records have become a prominent site upon the radar of the highest office in the land. President George W. Bush signed executive order #13410 mandating the development of interoperability standards. Those standards and issues regarding personal health records are discussed at length by Mike McBride when he stated,  “…. privacy, security and interoperability are the primary issues facing health information exchange, which is the basis for regional health information networks” (The Other Side of EMR, 2007-11).  The author firmly believes personal information should remain sacrosanct in the hands of the ones entrusted with the safekeeping.  Personal medical history would show diabetes treatment for fifteen years, hypertensive care, and other maladies. That information could cost the acquisition of a new job, if an employer had easy access to it. That knowledge is against the law to use as reason for denying employment but, when known, has been used secretly to deny it. This has happened to me, as it was made known by third-party disclosure, and it can happen to you.


  1. Breach of Confidentiality, Journal: Legal Eagle Eye Newsletter for the Nursing Profession, Vol. 15, Issue 11, p 8(1).  (December 1, 2007)
  2. The Other Side of EMR, McBride, Mike, Journal: Health Management Technology, Vol. 28, Issue 11, p. 6(0) (November, 2007)
  3. Kroll Fraud Solutions; Gaps in Hospital Security Policies Put Patient Data at Risk, According to New Report, Biotech Week via  (April 24, 2008)

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