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Monday, September 22, 2014

Full disclosure

Do individuals have a right for their medical records to remain private after death, or can public interest prevail?

By Jack El-Hai
Originally published September 1, 2014

Here is an excerpt:

Putting aside my thoughts on whether Göring deserved any common courtesies and consideration, I explained to the questioner that I’m not a medical provider, and I do not have to follow the ethics of another profession that places a premium on the privacy of patients, living or dead. I have never sworn by the Hippocratic Oath in all my years as a writer. Furthermore, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996, a federal US law that regulates the disposition of medical records and protects the privacy of patients, applies to hospitals, medical providers and insurers – but not to writers. Even if it did apply to writers, HIPAA’s privacy protections last for only 50 years past a patient’s death, making the records of Göring and most of his fellow Nazi defendants clearly free from any restrictions on their use.

‘Don’t private medical records deserve more permanent protections?’ my questioner persisted.

The entire article is here.