Each of us can give an anecdote about how we live daily with less privacy. However, in a smaller way, examine for a minute how this erosion is played out in our lives daily as increasingly?and often, subtly--we unwittingly give away access to highly personal, medical information.In everyday personal injury law, claimants (a claimant is someone who "puts their physical or medical condition at issue" in a lawsuit for injuries resulting from an automobile collision or other incidental or intentional act) innocently surrender medical and psychiatric information. For instance, most legal professionals will tell you that they expect, by bringing a lawsuit, someone who is claiming injury will give up any privacy interest they have in medical data and records concerning their treatment. However, how far will that waiver extend? In our state, if you claim being $60 thousand in debt for medical expenses caused you emotional stress, you are probably going to hand the "other side" your psychiatric records for the last thirty years on a silver platter, assuming that such records exist!.Can the federal government act to save our medical information rights? In April, 2003 a new, comprehensive medical information privacy law was effected that purports to augment medical record privacy by prescribing how much doctors can say to insurance companies and related entities.
(This is also the law that makes us stand in line, supposedly far enough from a pharmacist or medical receptionist so that we cannot hear what is said to the person at the front of the line.).However, what more can you do to protect your medical privacy?.When you are asked by a paralegal, victim advocate, or an attorney to sign a release for medical information, demand:.
? A chance to approve to whom the release is given after you sign.? The opportunity to limit the length of time that the release is effective.? That the nature of the release concerns the ongoing subject of the matter at issue.When you next meet with your doctor, pharmacist, or attorney:.? Direct your doctor and pharmacist to not use your pharmaceutical or medical data for any "commercial or advertising purpose".? Direct your attorney's office, their staff, and paralegals (especially if you are a complainant in a criminal or insurance law case) to inform you to whom and for what purpose your records are shared.
Most important, if you have just been handed a document, or you are confronting any situation where you are "putting your medical history at issue" in a lawsuit, or a claim for disability insurance benefits, or anything having to do with money, think very carefully about the long-term meaning and each implication of signing that document. You are selling your privacy, so consider the price!.Do not forget, information is power. Even your information.Subscribe to Highlands Investigations & Legal Services, Inc.
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com.Highlands Investigations & Legal Services, a product of two logically related sets of background and training?-attorney and information specialist--offers a unique blend of investigative and writing/research skills. To learn more about our services, go to http://www.highlandsinvestigations.
com..Shaun Kaufman tried over 125 felony jury trials, numerous misdemeanor trials, as well as courts martial proceedings and civil jury trials during 17 years law practice. Currently retired, Shaun is the co-founder of Highlands Investigations and Legal Services, Inc. http://www.highlandsinvestigations.
By: Shaun Kaufman