A step forwards for patient privacy: This week California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed two new bills ramping up protection of patients’ electronic medical records. The move comes after a rash of incidents at UCLA Medical centre, where celebrities including Britney Spears, Farrah Fawcett, and the Governator’s wife Maria Shriver have had their files riffled through by medical personnel not treating them. New provisions: Establishment of a “Office of Health Information Integrity” (whatever that is) and fines of up to $250,000 for breaches of patient privacy.
A good start. If doctors and nurses can’t resist the temptation to go peeking into celebrity records right now, how much greater will the problem become when and if all of our medical data is computerized and portable over the Net?