How Private Are Your Medical Records?

Natasha Singer in The New York Times lists all the entities that can look at them. This list is very long:


Then there is this:

While Netflix and some health care concerns say they have been able to offer study data to researchers stripped of specific personal details like your name, phone number and e-mail address, in some cases researchers may be able to re-identify you by correlating anonymous information with the digital trail that you’ve left on blogs, chat rooms and Twitter.

In 1997, for example, a researcher identified the medical records of William Weld, then the governor of Massachusetts, by correlating birthdays, ZIP codes and gender in voter registration rolls and information published by the state’s government insurance commission.

“Once personal health data gets out there, it’s like the Paris Hilton sex tape,” Dr. Peel said. “It is going to be out there forever.”

Comments (5)

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  1. Larry C. says:

    This is amazing. Thanks for posting this.

  2. Nancy says:

    This is an incredible chart. It’s actually kind of scary.

  3. Ken says:

    It’s more than scary. It’s alarming. Terrifying. And totally unacceptable.

  4. Neil H. says:

    Ken, it’s also awful! And many other things too off color to print here.

  5. Joe S. says:

    I keep hearing how restrictive HIPAA is. Apparently it is not restrictive enough.