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Wednesday, 15 April 2009 07:52

New Legislation Will Destroy Medical Confidentiality

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The current Labor Government has started the same 'sneaky legislation' methods pioneered by the previous Liberal Government.  This time, they're about to pass legislation to remove ALL privacy of medical records.

In today's press release from the Australian medical Association (AMA), details are given of the draft legislation released (almost) without notice on Easter Thursday evening which specifies "the power under this section to require a document, extract or copy to be produced includes the power to require production of a document, extract or copy containing health information (within the definition of the Privacy Act 1988) about an individual."

This will totally reverse the current legal protection for patient privacy – all in the name of enhanced Medicare claim justification.

The AMA claims that "The patient record will be completely exposed, extracts obtained, copied, retained and potentially submitted in court for all to see" and goes on to comment that "Doctors fear the legislation will prevent patients from discussing intimate health concerns once the patient understands that privacy is no longer guaranteed."

Dr Rosanna Capolingua, President of the AMA says, "It is remarkable that a Government should take such a step as to violate your personal medical record. This is 'Big Brother' at its worst.  Doctors take their oath of patient confidentiality extremely seriously, but this legislation forces us to break this oath or face a hefty fine"

As I see it, this would never have been an issue in "pre computer" days.  Patient records were all on paper (I defy anyone to decipher the handwriting!) and any effort to copy them to a Government authority would have resulted in a 'doubling' of demand on the forestry industry.

Now that all records are computerised, the Government sees an easy target; after-all, it's all just a bunch of bits and bytes on disk, how hard is it to get a copy?

Never mind that the overall security of this information HAS to be reduced.  Currently, patient files are in small groups on the (hopefully) protected PCs in surgeries all over the country.  How attractive would a single repository be to the 'bad boys of the internet?'

This is an outrage.  It must be stopped.

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David Heath

David Heath has had a long and varied career in the IT industry having worked as a Pre-sales Network Engineer (remember Novell NetWare?), General Manager of IT&T for the TV Shopping Network, as a Technical manager in the Biometrics industry, and as a Technical Trainer and Instructional Designer in the industrial control sector. In all aspects, security has been a driving focus. Throughout his career, David has sought to inform and educate people and has done that through his writings and in more formal educational environments.

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