Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Why We Should Learn to Stop Worrying and Begin to Love Computerized Medical Records

Using social security numbers as a clearinghouse, the computerization and digitalization of medical records might soon make one's medical history as accessible as one's credit history. Which is often checked by companies before hiring an employee. One can imagine laws to prevent the abuse of this in a reasonably democratic society, again, an intellectual exercise rather than a reflection of what today exists in a highly unequal and stratified society that requires the implicit hand of authority to maintain order.

From a few weeks back:

Sheriffs in North Carolina want access to state computer records identifying anyone with prescriptions for powerful painkillers and other controlled substances.

The state sheriff's association pushed the idea Tuesday, saying the move would help them make drug arrests and curb a growing problem of prescription drug abuse. But patient advocates say opening up people's medicine cabinets to law enforcement would deal a devastating blow to privacy rights.

Allowing sheriffs' offices and other law enforcement officials to use the state's computerized list would vastly widen the circle of people with access to information on prescriptions written for millions of people. As it stands now, doctors and pharmacists are the main users.

1'Sheriffs want lists of patients using painkillers' - News and Observer; Bonner

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