Organizations petition for EHR privacy

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As has been the case all year, a good deal of health IT-related legislation is being proposed and debated on Capitol Hill right now. Advocacy groups concerned about the privacy of patient data, particularly within systems such as electronic health records (EHRs), are taking action.
   
The Patient Privacy Rights Foundation and the Electronic Privacy Information Center are using a petition they released last week to appeal to lawmakers to control access the sensitive information contained in medical records, the magazine Extreme Nano Reports.

The petition aims to put the power in the patient's hands in choosing who can access their medical records and blocks employers specifically. The petition also was created in hopes of preventing the sharing of private information from being a prerequisite to getting healthcare.
   
The advocacy groups believe that EHRs that are properly constructed could actually do more to protect information that paper-based records. But such controls must be mandated from the start, said Deborah Peel, head of the Patient Privacy Rights Foundation, in comments regarding the petition.

One capability of EHRs that make them more secure is the ability of such technology to grant levels of access instead of granting access to entire files or histories.

The bi-partisan group Commission for Systemic Operability also recently released 14 recommendations to help secure electronic patient data. One recommendation is to crack down on people who maliciously attempt to gain access to restricted information and suggests criminal prosecution. The group also suggests that Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) develop a means of protecting patients from damages they endure due to unauthorized access to their files.
   
More information is available at: www.patientprivacyrights.org/.