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Doctors outraged at Patriot Act's potential to seize medical records

BMJ 2006; 332 doi: (Published 12 January 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;332:69
  1. Jeanne Lenzer
  1. New York

    US doctors across the political spectrum are protesting at a provision in the Patriot Act that allows the government to seize patients' medical records without a probable cause or a warrant. The act prohibits doctors from telling anyone, including the patient, that their sensitive medical records have been seized. Doctors who violate the gagging order can be fined and prosecuted for obstruction of justice.

    The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (a libertarian group based in Tucson, Arizona) and the American Civil Liberties Union, which has many doctor members, have joined in a coalition, called Patriots to Restore Checks and Balances, to urge Congress to amend Section 215 of the act. The provision, which only recently came to light, allows the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to get a secret court order to seize …

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