AMA Journal of Ethics®

Illuminating the art of medicine

Journal of Ethics Header

AMA Journal of Ethics®

Illuminating the art of medicine

Virtual Mentor. September 2012, Volume 14, Number 9.

Ethics Poll

So That's Confidentiality

The Ethics Poll is a snapshot of the opinions of interested readers.

Two physicians, one in 1982 and one in 2012, each looked at the chart of a single patient he was interested in to see how many different people had viewed the information in that chart during one hospital stay. Which of the following sets of numbers do you think the physicians found when they counted how many people had viewed the patients' charts during one hospital stay?

You will find one of these numbers (and hence the answer to the poll question) in this month's Journal Discussion.

All things considered, do you think patient information is better protected [e.g., from people who have no need to see it, from mistakes made in entering information] in electronic medical records than in paper medical records?
If patients had ownership rights over the medical records that physicians and hospitals keep on them, the information in those records could never be used without the patientsí/owners' permission.

Find the answer in this month's Policy Forum.