Monday, December 02, 2002

Too Much Information

It's not everyday that I find myself agreeing with Minnesota Attorney General Mike Hatch but I have to side with Hatch on the state's plan to build a database of medical records to help research. An administrative judge gave the go ahead for the state to proceed with the database today despite opposition from Hatch and other groups concerned about privacy. The full story is available from Here's an excerpt:

The ruling means the Minnesota Health Department must begin collecting virtually every medical record generated in the state and compiling them into one massive database that can be used by researchers.

While doctors and public health professionals contended the database will help track disease trends in areas of the state and possibly aid earlier detection and treatment of illnesses, privacy advocates argued the database was an invasion of privacy, mainly because the records are tied to names and addresses.

The privacy concerns seem valid and the potential for abuse is enormous particularly when weighed against the rather dubious and unqualified benefits. And down the road I could see such a database being used to push for some sort of single payer form of state sponsored medical care based on disparities of treatments between various racial, economic, and geographic groups within the state.

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