How Secure Are Your Medical Records? Farrah Fawcett Discusses Possible Breaches in Patient Confidentiality By Health Care Providers

“As time went on and more stories appeared, Fawcett said she grew convinced that information about her medical condition was being leaked by someone at UCLA. Whenever she sought treatment there, word always got out. Even when the tabloid reports were false, she said, they were based on a morsel of truth.”

Photo by k.steudel, via Flickr.

Photo by k.steudel, via Flickr.

ProPublica‘s Charles Ornstein has conducted an interview (co-published yesterday in the Los Angeles Times; the article includes a short video) with Farrah Fawcett about living with a terminal illness under constant media scrutiny. Fawcett has been particularly critical of the National Enquirer, and of UCLA Medical Center for not protecting her medical records from employees who may have been releasing information to the media. At one point, she even set a trap to prove her suspicions were correct. As the Obama administration makes digitized health records a priority in its health care reform plans, how might this affect patient privacy, and are you (and your institutions) ready for the issues that might arise?

–Jacob Molyneux, AJN senior editor

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Senior editor/social media strategy, American Journal of Nursing, and editor of AJN Off the Charts.

One Comment

  1. doctorblue May 12, 2009 at 9:35 pm

    While I believe that digitizing medical records is ultimately helpful for both patient and doctor, there are still many issues left to explore. Not least among them is whether to include doctors’ subjective notes, and doctors’ liability for failing to review such records if readily available. I have been disabled the last five years because I could not get doctors I saw to read and analyze my medical records to make a proper diagnosis. Much easier to just refer a complicated patient to another physician. Doctors groaned when I brought them my inch of recent abnormal test results and told me they didn’t have time to read the reports. Many just ordered repeats of the same tests, CT scans, etc. rather than have to review existing recent results. My blog is a chronological portrayal of my futile five year quest for competent care.

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