Health Data Dangers

Health Data: Not For Sale

Right now, as Congress considers health IT legislation that would convert our health records from paper to electronic data, patient information is at risk of becoming a commodity that businesses can sell or trade.

While having a nationally connected electronic network for storing and sharing Americans medical information promises to reduce medical error and improve patient care both in emergencies and chronic situations, medical privacy should not become a casualty of the race to set up databases of electronic health records.

We need real patient control of data and damages for misuse or theft. Patients must be able to review files, correct bad data, and block access without consent to personal information. The current legislation does not have these protections.

If Congress fails to require strong privacy and security standards now, during the early stages of development of these online patient records systems, Americans' medical secrets will be extremely vulnerable to snooping -- or being lost or stolen.