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Title Privacy, Confidentiality, and Other Legal Considerations in the Establishment of a Centralized Health-Data System
Author(s) William J. Curran, JD, SMHyg; Barbara Stearns, JD; and Honora Kaplan, MPA
Source NEJM, Vol. 281, No. 5, Pages 241-248
Publication Date July 31, 1969
Abstract A major issue confronting health-data systems is the protection of privacy and confidentiality. State laws covering health-information disclosure are geared to specific information rather than to comprehensive coverage of all health data. Federal laws cover only data gathered by federal agencies. Every health-data system should adopt a code of ethics and clearly defined rules and regulations governing the protection of information. Violation by employees should be grounds for dismissal, and violation by users should bar future access to the system. Criminal as well as civil penalties for wrongful disclosure should be adopted by statute. The system should make use of interagency agreements. A privacy committee and a method of public surveillance should be established. The organizational structure should take the form of a consortium of the contributing agencies to ensure the continuing cooperation and support of these agencies and the greatest public acceptance of the system.


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