Health and genetic information is regarded as the most private of information. People desire to keep their medical and health care records private for many reasons, including personal privacy, avoiding stigmas associated with certain diseases or conditions, and preventing job and economic discrimination.

In the medical field, the confidentiality of medical information is protected, at the most basic level, by the ethical rules of the “Oath and Law of Hippocrates,” which was established circa 400 B.C.  Here is the Oath and Law of Hippocrates:

“Whatever, in connection with my professional service, or not in connection with it, I see or hear, in the life of men, which ought not to be spoken of abroad, I will not divulge, as reckoning that all such should be kept secret.”

The modern health care system is complex and personal medical data is disclosed as a matter of operating procedure. Medical data is disclosed to doctors, nurses, and other professional staff. In addition, patient-level medical and care data is widely circulated among insurers, hospitals, employers, government agencies, health care information brokers, pharmacy benefit managers, and the American Medical Association.

Health care professionals in all fields should consider the ethical riles and privacy principles contained in the “Oath and Law of Hippocrates.”

Under Federal law, all consumers are entitled to an annual copy of their medical report files from the nationwide specialty consumer reporting agencies.

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