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Article
May 18, 1994

Protecting Privacy in Computerized Medical Information

Author Affiliations
 

US Congress Office of Technology Assessment, Paula J. Bruening, Project Director (OTA-TCT-576, September 1993), 157 pp, with illus, $10, stock No. 052-003-01345-2, Washington, DC, US Government Printing Office/Superintendent of Documents, PO Box 371954, Pittsburgh, PA 15250-7954; telephone orders (202) 783-3238, fax orders (202) 512-2250.

JAMA. 1994;271(19):1549-1550. doi:10.1001/jama.1994.03510430105052

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Abstract

Electronic Health Care Information: Recordkeeping and Privacy Aspects, by Benjamin Wright (Law of Electronic Commerce: Special Release, chapter 21), 61 pp, $55, ISBN 0-316-95637-6 (full set price $125, includes 464-pp main volume, special release, and supplement, ISBN 0-316-956-341), Boston, Mass, Little, Brown & Co, 1993.

Health care reform, as the above Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) report notes, depends on increasingly computerized and interconnected medical records. With a network of networks sharing on-line databases, a patient information card, and a unique patient identifier, one's health record, if not protected, could become an open book to health providers, third-party payers, secondary users—researchers, agencies— and, last and least, to oneself.

Currently, commercial interests have the upper hand, as the "patchwork of State and Federal laws" that bear on the privacy of personal medical data is "inadequate." Protecting Privacy in Computerized Medical Information clearly reviews the inherent problems of computerized health care information—origins,

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