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JAMA 100 Years Ago
October 19, 2005


JAMA. 2005;294(15):1974. doi:10.1001/jama.294.15.1974-a

There is much that might be said that is good of American progress in hygienic matters, but the criticisms in Dr. Fulton’s address, published in this issue, are certainly called for. We in this country have never been strong in the matter of vital statistics; over a large portion of our territory the attempts at their collection are almost farcical and, even where they are at their best, there is, as he points out, much room for reform. It is the second point of his criticism, however, that most calls for our attention here. The disreputable, and, we might say, criminal use of the health records for commercial purposes, as he shows, is appalling, and strongly suggests that even worse remains behind. The possibilities of blackmailing from a free access of everyone to these records are very apparent. Moreover, as the tendency to increase the number of notifiable diseases extends, and there is good reason for its doing so, the evil possibilities are greatly enhanced.

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