Remember doctor patient confidentiality? Well, it doesn’t really exist anymore. Sure, your doctor can’t disclose personal medical information (PMI) to your spouse, but they will share it with the National Security Agency (NSA) without your authorization. Further, they don’t even have to tell you they shared your information. Is your doctor talking to the NSA? You might be surprised.
Does HIPPA protect you?
Not too long ago, Peter Van Buren wrote an interesting piece about his journey/struggle to understand the rules of doctors sharing medical information. What he found is that HIPPA allows this sharing of information after an amendment was made post 9/11 in 2002. HIPPA, initially put into place in 1996 partially to protect patient privacy, now allows for your doctor to share information with the government without your knowledge.
Why the amendment?
The reason given for the 2002 amendment allowing doctors, including private physicians, to share unauthorized information with the government is that it’s in the best interest of national security. The goal was to both protect patient privacy and to protect the health and safety of all citizens. Authorization is not required when it comes to:
- Assuring proper execution of a military mission
- Conducting intelligence and national security activities
- Providing protective services to the President
- Making medical suitability determinations for U.S. State Department Employees
- Protecting the health and safety of inmates or employees in correctional institutions
- Determining eligibility for or conducting enrollment in certain government programs
If you feel like some of those criteria may be a bit open-ended, you’re not alone. If you think this protection of privacy might infringe on your personal privacy, you’re also not alone.
In this post 9/11 information age, privacy seems to be more and more a fleeting concept, online and even at your doctor’s office. When you visit your doctor and sign forms that you think are protecting your privacy, you might want to read a little bit closer.
We’re interested in your thoughts. Were you aware of the HIPPA amendment? Have you experienced any of the above?