Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Why Physicians Are Reluctant to Share Patient Data: Fine Line Between Protecting Privacy and Public Health

Conversation between doctor and patient/consumer.

Image via Wikipedia

From the 7 July Science News Today article

 

Family doctors are reluctant to disclose identifiable patient information, even in the context of an influenza pandemic, mostly in an effort to protect patient privacy. A recently published study by Dr. Khaled El Emam the Canada Research Chair in Electronic Health Information at the University of Ottawa and the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute recently found that during the peak of the H1N1 pandemic in 2009, there was still reluctance to report detailed patient information for public health purposes.

These results are important today, so we can learn from that experience and prepare for the inevitable next pandemic.

“There is a perceived tradeoff between the public good and individual privacy. If we sway too much on the public good side, then all people’s health data would be made available without conditions,” explained Dr. El Emam. “If we sway too much on the individual privacy side then no health data would be shared without consent, but then this would potentially increase public health risks. Physicians are important gatekeepers of patient information, so we need to better understand the conditions under which they are willing to provide patient data so that everyone wins; we do not need to make these tradeoffs….

July 7, 2011 - Posted by | Public Health | , , , ,

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