So, you think when you go to your doctor and pour your heart out, everything is secure, top secret, confidential ? That's the way it was once, but not any longer. Your entire medical history may be available for as little as ten dollars! The erosion started as long ago as the sixties when medicare dictated that for your doctor to get paid, he had to write your diagnosis on the billing slip that he submitted to the government. Doesn't matter what the nature of your complaint is, your privacy really didn't and doesn't matter to the administridiots who dictated the terms of the heath care game. Patient's would sometimes plead with the doctor to avoid filing in the true diagnosis.
I clearly recall a patient coming to see me to plead with me not to fil in the true diagnosis. The conversation went like this.
"Doctor, my sister-in -law works for the health care commission. If she sees the diagnosis it will ruin my marriage. Can't you say I just had a cold or something." So, being young and stupid, out of compassion for the distraught woman, that's exactly what I did. When I related this to a senior colleague he was aghast. "Don't ever do that again," said he,"you could really get into terrible trouble. The folks knew about that when they voted for medicare, now they have to live with the consequences." He was right, that was part of the deal. I never did that again.
Medical confidentiality was never of any importance to the legal profession, especially when it was obstructing them from getting information they wanted. On a few occasions when I was trying to keep information confidential on behalf of the patient, it was made quite clear to me I would be subpoenaed. When I consulted a lawyer, it was explained that if I was subpoenaed and refused I would be guilty of contempt of court and could be fined and/or go to jail! (and by the way, if the patient wanted to sue for breach of confidentiality, they couldn't as long as I claimed the protection of the 'Canada evidence act'.)
The Electronic Health Record only made thing worse. The early enthusiasm I had for computerized medical record that would make a patient's medical information available across the spectrum of physicians, specialists and health care providers was staunched fairly early on, by the realization the the politicians and their health care administridiots had something quite different in mind. What they had in mind was a massive data collection that had no relationship to the patients' health but rather to their long term plans for social engineering. Many of the physicians I speak to nowadays feel the the electronic system undermines rather than facilitates their attempts to provide excellent health care. But that is not the thrust of this blog, which is that computers will never be safe and that your health records will be available to anyone who is prepared to pay a reasonably competent hacker a relatively cheap price to obtain them. Not many folks realize that, or if they do, they don't care. Other and more dangerous consequences of hacking lie in the development of 'ransomware' in which the hackers can disable vital hospital equipment or scramble data and demanding a ransom to unscramble the data.
I have no doubt that someday soon, a very smart medical group with a catchy name like 'Healthcare Confidential' will come along with a data disguising program that will enable the patient to be reassured that any part of their history that they deem too personal to be accessible to the administridiots will be suitably encrypted and not obvious to the medically uneducated. This will be expensive, of course, but I have no doubt there will be many who would wish to avail of it.
I wish I had thought of it a few years ago. In the meantime, good luck!!
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