Electronic Medical Files: A Threat to Privacy?

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Electronic Medical Files: A Threat to Privacy? Abstract: Electronic medical databases and the ability to store medical files in them have made our lives easier in many ways and riskier in others. The main risk they pose is the safety of our personal data if put on an insecure an insecure medium. What if someone gets their hands on your information and uses it in ways you don't approve of? Can you stop them? To keep your information safe and to preserve faith in this invaluable technology, the issue of access must be addressed. Guidelines are needed to establish who has access and how they may get it. This is necessary for the security of the information a, to preserve privacy, and to maintain existing benefits. Imagine a gravely sick person in a hospital bed. Tubes and wires connect him to whirring machines like medical jumper cables; he lays almost lifeless except for the barely perceptible vitality pumped into them by the system of machines we call life support. Take a moment to think about the roles that computers play in this scenario. Now imagine the scene and the patient's condition without computers. That's easy. There is nothing: no slow breathing, no whirring of machines, no dripping IV, no beeping heart monitor. Not only would the person probably be dead, but everything from the reclining bed to the nurse call button to the life support system relies on computers. Computers have totally proliferated the world of medicine. They are used to monitor vital signs, to operate artificial hearts and to compile and store medical histories. Though not directly related to our well being, the last use is of utmost importance. Today, the use of medical databases and computer... ... middle of paper ... ...Berkeley National Laboratory's Ethical, Legal, Social Issues in Science Project 2.White House release, Wednesday, December 20, 2000 on www.cdt.org/privacy/medical/001220whitehouse.shtml; posted by the Center for Technology and Democracy 3. www.ama-assn.org/sci-pubs/msjama/articles/vol_285/no_13/jms0404014.htm#ref3; Journal of the American Medical Association. 4.www.techtv.com/cybercrime/privacy/story/0,23008,3320805,00.html; a website with good facts corroborated from other sources 5. Sara Baase, A Gift of Fire. Published by Prentice Hall, 1997. p 61 6.www.aclu.org/action/medregs/readstories.html; medical privacy anecdotes from newspapers gathered by the A.C.L.U. 7. Personal Communication: F. Makedon, class discussion, Sept, 2001 8.www.netreach.net/~wmanning/otadig.htm; part of an extensive website dedicated to medical privacy issues

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