Poll: Doctors Lie To Protect Patient Privacy

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Physicians Almost Unanimous in Opposition to HIPAA ‘Privacy’ Rules

New federal “privacy”
rules could actually do more harm to patients than just
compromising privacy, according to a national physician
organization.

A mailed survey of 344 physicians conducted by the Association
of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) shows almost unanimous
opposition to the HHS privacy rules, scheduled for full
implementation in 2003. A whopping 96 percent thought the rules
would further compromise patient privacy. Some of the other
questions provide further clues about the practical effects of the
rules.

The poll results were disclosed at a news conference today in
Washington, D.C. by AAPS Public Affairs Counsel, Kathryn Serkes, in
conjunction with the announcement of a lawsuit against HHS to be
filed by AAPS challenging the new regulations.

“The rules may create a massive federal mandate that requires
every doctor to share patients’ records with the federal government
without patient consent,” said Serkes. “Even more alarming is that
patients may be refused medical treatment if they won’t consent to
disclosure.”

But physicians already believe that third-parties ask for
information that they believe to violate confidentiality, with 51
percent reporting such requests from government agencies and 70
percent from health plans.

Nearly 87 percent reported that a patient had asked that
information be kept out of the record, and nearly 78 percent of
physicians said that they had indeed withheld information from a
patient’s record due to privacy concerns. While only 19 percent
admit to lying to protect a patient’s privacy, 74 percent state
that they have withheld information for that reason.

“Patients are withholding information, and doctors are lying
because of privacy concerns,” said Serkes. “The obvious conclusion
is that these rules will only exacerbate the situation to the point
of distorted, incomplete and potentially dangerous medical records
becoming the norm. Physicians’ ethics will be further challenged,
the choice between government compliance and lying for a patient.”

“While masquerading as patient protection, the rules would
actually eliminate any last shred of confidentiality and risk
lives,” concluded Serkes AAPS is a national association of
physicians founded in 1943 to protect the sanctity of the
patient-physician relationship from intrusion of third parties.

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