Privacy aspects of health statistics

by Willis H. Ware

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Present privacy legislation attempts to guarantee that as we give information to organizations for legitimate needs, we retain some control over its use, are protected against its misuse or abuse, and have a legal basis for redress if something goes wrong. The Privacy Act of 1974 created the Privacy Protection Study Commission. It is to examine the recordkeeping practices of the federal government, state governments, local governments and private industry, and to make recommendations for extending the Privacy Act, or creating other legislative controls to deal with the privacy issue. The National Center for Health Statistics deals with confidential personal information, which will have to be protected. To comply with the Privacy Act, individuals should probably be informed that information given to physicians or hospitals will be forwarded to state or federal agencies for assessment of health care delivery and will be protected as confidential and precautions taken to assure anonymity.

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