Bmj Usa: News

Patient privacy rule goes into effect

BMJ 2003; 327 doi: (Published 19 November 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;327:E11
  1. Charles Marwick
  1. Washington, DC

    This article originally appeared in BMJ USA

    Washington—As the final rule aimed at protecting the privacy of patients' medical records goes into effect, it is giving rise to just as much controversy as it generated when it was being drafted. The criticisms come, not just from health insurers, hospitals, and the health care industry (who say it will impose unacceptable costs), but also from significant segments of the medical profession, such as the American Medical Association (AMA) and the American Psychiatric Association (APA). At the same time, among the professional medical groups at least, there is agreement that it is better than nothing. The AMA has long supported patient records protection, but points out that the final rule does not fully achieve that goal.

    The rule was issued by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) at the end of December. It lays out standards for protecting personal health records of all types—electronic, paper and even oral communications. “This is what American patients and their providers want and need,” said Dr Donna Shalala, the previous HHS Secretary, speaking at a press conference. She hailed the rule as a landmark in achieving privacy of medical records. …

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