Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Leaks of personal health information can have side effects on your health

In the wake of a recent incident in San Jose involving the leak of personal information from a medical clinic, the San Jose Mercury News is running a story about how privacy fears affect patients:

MercuryNews.com | 04/12/2005 | Medical data thefts spur worry:

"The recent theft of two computers from the San Jose Medical Group could have repercussions beyond the 185,000 people whose billing records were on those machines.

Privacy advocates worry that this case, and a rash of others involving the loss of personal data, will make people afraid to get the medical care they need.

``It has a devastating impact on the way people seek health care,'' said Emily Stewart, a policy analyst for the non-profit Health Privacy Project in Washington, D.C.

In a 1999 survey, she said, one out of six people said they were so worried that their medical or financial details would leak out that they withheld information from their doctors, skipped from doctor to doctor to avoid having all their records in one place or paid cash to avoid dealing with insurance companies.

Emma Burgess, 34, a former patient of San Jose Medical Group, said the break-in ``really irks me in a big way'' -- especially since she left the group four or five years ago...."

If anyone has a copy of that survey, please e-mail me at david.fraser (at) mcinnescooper.com.

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