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Home > Privacy and Business > Medical Privacy > Exceptions to Medical Privacy > Disclosure for Public Health

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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[updated 04/18/02]

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