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Welcome to the nexus of ethics, psychology, morality, philosophy and health care

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Danger: Electronic Records Ahead

By Stephen A. Ragusea, Psy. D., ABPP
The National Psychologist

Some 30 years ago, I was building a psychiatric hospital in central Pennsylvania and we discussed the possibility of starting-up the new facility’s operation with all electronic records. It was the early days of computer use but it seemed like a good idea at the time. Ultimately, we decided against the plan because we couldn’t find a technical mechanism to guaranty the security of patient records against the threat of unauthorized access.

That was a long time ago.

The truth is that not much has changed in the last three decades regarding computer security, except for one thing: Our society seems to have decided that open health records are more important than confidentiality.

As a society, we not only keep our records electronically, but we increasingly are making those records available to anybody with a password. There are real advantages to that kind of system for cardiac patients in crisis. But, making psychological records available in such a system would scare the hell out of me; it would be extraordinarily dangerous and fraught with unintended consequences.

The entire article is here.