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Home > Privacy and Business > Medical Privacy > What is Medical Information? > Non-Private Health Information

Non-Private Health Information

While it is clear that some health information is highly sensitive and private, it is also important to recognize that some health information is not private or sensitive at all. In fact, patients may sometimes appreciate having their health information publicized.

Victims of sports injuries, car accidents, or other traumas may enjoy reduced suffering and get true psychological health benefits from public acknowledgement of their pain. Indeed, the "Get Well Soon" card exists because society calls for medical conditions to be widely acknowledged in some cases.

Other medical conditions can not be kept private as a practical matter because of the way they manifest themselves. Skin conditions affecting the face and hands, obesity, nerve and muscle disorders, and a variety of other disabilities are obvious to all who see the individuals affected.

No sweeping conclusions can be drawn from the fact that some health information is not private. It is important to recognize that the sensitivity and privacy of health information falls along a continuum that is very specific to the individual circumstances of individual patients. This counsels against broad generalizations or regulatory programs that attempt to lump all health information into a single category.


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[updated 02/19/01]

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