We are being coerced into an electronic medical records system, which the Government will “keep safe” for us and allow access to physicians treating patients. We are to accept the assertion that the data base will be secure and that our most private medical information will never fall into the wrong hands. Certainly the ability of a physician to have access to all medical records for a patient is of significant value, and may reduce redundant testing.
But what about others who will have access, legally, or otherwise? Even if you are not worried about “Big Brother”, are your medical records in a central data base truly safe? Are Pentagon files safe from hackers? I think you already know the answer to that. Last year, there were over 50 breaches of computer data bases by hackers. Approximately 43 million Americans had their personal information compromised in the past 12 months. One and one half million credit cards were stolen on line in the past 2 years, as well as social security numbers.
As a physician, I would love to have instant access to my patients’ records from other physicians, but I absolutely do not want that information compromised. We do not need to have all those records in a central data base. Other than requiring a patient be responsible for those records, there is no reason that all of the individual’s information cannot be recorded electronically in a small portable system, like a flash drive. The patient can take the entire record to the physician’s office for both review and to be updated. Oh, I forgot, our Government doesn’t think we, the public, can be trusted with our own medical records. The Government feels the need to be the ultimate custodian. George Orwell was off a few years, but we are approaching 1984.
Dr. Barry Jacobs is a Reproductive Endocrinologist, practicing in Carrollton, Texas, a northern suburb of Dallas. He completed his residency training in obstetrics and gynecology at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, and remained at that institution to become its first fellow once Baylor achieved accreditation for an advanced training program in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility. Dr. Jacobs has served on the faculty of several medical schools and was director of Reproductive Endocrinology at Texas Tech Health Science Center in Amarillo. Currently, in addition to his clinical activities caring for infertile patients and those with recurrent pregnancy loss, he is Chairman of the IVF committee at Baylor Medical Center in Carrollton.