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Disclosure for Public Health
Most governments allow entities with public health oversight responsibilities to
have access to medical records without patient consent. They also often mandate
that certain types of information be made available to public health officials,
such as reporting of infectious diseases or prescription of certain medications.
While there are instances where public health interests should outweigh patient
control over the privacy of medical information, these should be limited. Patient
control over information should be reduced only in cases of clear danger to the
public. Awareness by the public that medical information can be used by governmental
authorities will tend to undermine confidence in the integrity and privacy of
the health care system.
Whenever possible, information that is shared with public health authorities and
health industry overseers should be stripped of personally identifying information.
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