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   11-15-95. NYPaper Page One:

   "When Patients' Records Are Commodities for Sale."

      Individual medical records, carrying more sensitive
      personal information than ever before, are increasingly
      being gathered and stored by the tens of thousands in
      commercial databanks maintained by institutions like
      hospital networks, health maintenance organizations and
      drug companies. And although there is a Federal law that
      protects the privacy of video rental lists, private
      medical information is being bought and sold freely.

      The issue of medical privacy touches virtually everyone.
      "It is true to say that if you know a person's history
      of health problems, then you know more about that person
      than you would with any other data," said Lawrence O.
      Gostin, a professor at Georgetown University Law Center.
      And as medical records start including new genetic
      information that can predict diseases likely to show up
      in years to come, they will be able to reveal "not just
      health histories, but health futures," Mr. Gostin said.

      Yesterday hearings were held on a bill called the
      Medical Records Confidentiality Act, intended to
      establish uniform Federal rules for the use and
      disclosure of health information.

      Although the bill details procedures for obtaining
      consent, it also establishes a formidable list of
      exceptions to this requirement. The police, health
      oversight agencies, health information services, public
      health offices and medical researchers are among those
      allowed to obtain records of an identified patient
      without that person's consent and, in many cases without

   MED_vac  (15 kb)