COMMENTARY

HIPAA's Privacy Regulations: Increased Privacy Comes at a Cost

Deeb Salem, MD

Disclosures

September 24, 2003

In This Article

Privacy Comes at a Cost

Medical privacy is essential to most patients, and it is the motivating goal behind the development of the HIPAA regulations. At least at the outset, however, HIPAA has come at a significant cost in scarce healthcare dollars, because of the confusion and frustration of patients and physicians and the delays and possible adverse outcomes in patient care caused by the lack of clarity and the anxieties created in our healthcare system. Although laudable in intent, HIPAA's overall value to our healthcare system remains to be determined.

As stated by Willerson and Kereiakes,[7] "Approaches are needed that do not penalize investigators, but instead assist them in ensuring patient privacy while contributing to the information that will ultimately lead to disease prevention and reduction in medical morbidity for countless numbers of patients throughout the world." Such an approach will require a thoughtful and rational reassessment and ultimate redesign of the HIPAA privacy rules based on feedback from patients, clinicians, and researchers.

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