Protecting Medical Privacy
Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney smiles at a campaign stop in Pittsburgh, Pa., Friday, May 4, 2012. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
"Very sorry to tell you, but you are being released from your position," is how Seargent recalled being fired.
She learned later her boss had seen her medical records.
"It was a cover, because he didn't want to pay the cost of my treatment... because it didn't effect my work. It was none of his business," charged Seargent.
Last week the federal government had a deadline to impose the first national medical privacy regulations that in part, would have protected workers like Terri Seargent from being fired based on their medical condition.
"The worst case scenario is that these privacy regulations, which have been years in the making will never see the light of day," said Jan Lori Goldman of the Health Privacy Project at Georgetown University.
But the health care industry says it only wants to tweak the rules, not toss them out. Some argue the rules as written could delay emergency care or the filling of a prescription without specific written consent.
"There are impediments to the flow of information and that's where there are going to be quality problems that patients will feel," said Richard Smith of the American Association of Health Plans.
Terri Seargenbelieves every day that goes by without federal privacy rules in place is dangerous. "Our information can be in anybody's hands, in anybody's computer, at any time."
And that, she says, forces thousands of patients to avoid the doctor out of fear the boss will learn they are ill.
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