Privacy Concerns With Electronic Medical Records

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Prior to the Information Age, medical records were all stored in folders in secure filing cabinets at doctor’s offices, hospitals, or health departments. The information within the folders was confidential, and shared solely amongst the patient and physician. Today these files are fragmented across multiple treatment sites due to the branching out of specialty centers such as urgent care centers, magnetic resonance imaging, outpatient surgical centers, and other diagnostic centers. Today’s ability to store medical records electronically has made it possible to easily send these files from one location to another. However, the same technology which can unify the fragmented pieces of a patient’s medical record has the ability to also create a path for privacy and security breaches. This paper will examine how electronic medical records are used, how they are secured, how security is enforced, and what the consequences of security breaches are. It is important for the purpose of clarity to distinguish the difference between electronic medical records (EMR) and electronic health records (EHR). Electronic medical records are an electronic composition of an individual’s medical history including such components as procedures, past diseases, diagnosis, medications, doctor’s names, and allergies. An electronic health record is an electronic means of documenting a patient’s procedures, diagnosis, billing information, etc. at each care facility (Badzek & Gross, 1999). A movement that was first initiated under the Bush administration, accepted by the Clinton administration, and now embraced by President Obama is the creation of the individual electronic medical record. In 2009 President Obama included $36 billion in the stimulus package to... ... middle of paper ... ...n%20age/315,000%20patients%27%20information%20disappears%20from%20Emory%20Healthcare%20_%20www.wsbtv.com.htm Dixon, P. MEDICAL IDENTITY THEFT: The Information Crime that Can Kill You, March 3, 2006. World Privacy Forum. Retrieved from http://www.worldprivacyforum.org/pdf/wpf_medicalidtheft2006.pdf on April 24, 2012. Foreman, Judy (26 June 2006). "At Risk of Exposure”. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 23 , 2012. Gellman, R. Fact Sheet 8a: HIPAA Basics: Medical Privacy in the Electronic Age. Privacy Clearing House. March, 2012. Retrieved April 19, 2012 from http://www.privacyrights.org/fs/fs8a-hipaa.htm. Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, 42 U.S.C. § 1320d-9 (2010). Moore, J. Electronic Medical Records Stimulus Package. Dec. 2009, Retrieved from http://www.electronicmedicalrecords.com/emr-stimulus-hitech-act.php on April 19, 2012.
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