Thursday, March 15, 2007

Lost medical records recovered

And related to privacy, NY Times also has some good news: CD Holding Medical Data of 75,000 Is Retrieved

A missing compact disc containing confidential medical and personal information on 75,000 Empire Blue Cross and Blue Shield members was recovered yesterday, according to Magellan Behavioral Services, a managed care company that monitors payments for mental health and substance abuse cases of insurers.

I live in a country where there are central registers registering just about all information about all citizens (based on a unique 10 digit code that every person gets at birth or when they get a residential permit).

Because of the possibility of abuse of such registers, there are some very strict laws in effect governing security and privacy of data in registers, as well as what data is allowed to be registered (both registers run by the public and by private companies). There is a federal agency that has as its only purpose to ensure that both private and public registers are in accordance to the law (which among other things demand that all registers with personal information are regsitered at teh agency).

As a software developer who used to make systems used by the Danish municipalities, I have more than once had work with some limits created by these laws.

When US stories like the disappearance of this data break, I am however thankful for such strict laws. Of course, there is also laws governing such data in the US, as the article makes clear

Failure to provide adequate security protection for individuals’ medical records is prohibited by privacy laws.

That doesn't help, however, if there is no oversight.

This story had a happy ending, but I hope that people dealing with such data will be more careful in teh future. I suspect that we all want to protect our privacy, especially when it comes to such sensitive data as medical records.



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