N.H. House kills EHR privacy bill

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The New Hampshire House of Representatives in a 150-166 vote Wednesday defeated a bill that would have required additional privacy restrictions on EMRs, and would have extended the federal privacy rights known as HIPAA to business associates, such as software vendors, and restrict access to fund-raisers and marketers.

The bill would have allowed patients to place additional restrictions on their records, and would have required that the hospital produce an audit trail at the patient’s expense, detailing who had access to a patient’s medical information, reported the New Hampshire Business Review.

Opponents said that the measure would result in costly and extensive training in privacy rights and warned of unintended consequences, including information not getting to doctors who needed it, costs that would drive up healthcare premiums and the printing of huge audits that do not serve any medical purpose.

According to the New Hampshire Business Review, supporters said that the bill’s costs would be modest since physician privacy restrictions are already in the software, and it would not cost much more to give the same right to patients, who would have to pay for the audits.

The bill was sent for an interim study which means it could return to the ballot in 2009, reported the New Hampshire Business Review.