Government Seizes 60 Million Electronic Medical Records

Friday, January 10, 2014

As an American, we enjoy certain protections afforded to us by the Constitution, including the right to privacy. As a physician I am deeply troubled by the government's push for the so-called universal EHR (Electronic Health Record). I am especially troubled by this since I am a psychiatrist and people share with me some of their deepest personal information.

This article published in today's Healthcare IT News shows how the government seized 60 million medical records, including those of California judges. This unprecedented seizure demonstrates the dangers of having an online, universal EHR. Electronic health records not only scream "hack me" to computer criminals; they also are apparently available for the government's review whenever it wants. In my opinion a universal EHR also undermines the doctor-patient relationship since patients no longer have the assurance of privacy of their health information.

As long as I am president of 360 Mental Health Services, we will never adopt a universal EHR. Although limited electronic data storage and transmission is unavoidable, our patients will continue to have a traditional paper file which we will fight to protect from falling into the wrong hands. One might ask "are paper records completely safe?" Of course not. Paper records could be lost in a fire, stolen by someone who physically breaks into the building, or seized by the government after what would almost certainly be a prolonged legal battle. However, paper medical records cannot be accessed in a split-second by government workers who have absolutely no business looking at them.  

-Dr. Tim