Marcia Weiss


The computerization of health information and medical records, including sensitive personal information that potentially reveals intimate details of one's life, habits, or genetic predisposition, is a mixed blessing. While offering a means of streamlining and improving the health care delivery system through speed and immense storage capacity, computerized medical information also presents new challenges as it impacts our right of privacy and expectation of confidentiality, creating serious ethical and legal issues. Non-uniform, patchwork statutory guidelines among the states have led to uncertainty and confusion surrounding disclosure, accessibility, and storage of medical data. This paper examines the legal ramifications surrounding issues of confidentiality and privacy in three areas: traditional concerns, changed perceptions, and new questions. It also addresses the grave consequences and troubling implications for social and public policy produced by misuse and unauthorized disclosure in tandem with unprotected, unsupervised, and universal access to readily available medical information.