Re: "Medical records must be shared," Aug. 22.
A number of statements in the editorial cause us great concern.
One is that "the benefit [of electronic health records] is obvious." Actually it is anything but obvious. The Canadian Medical Association Journal said as much in its September 2011 article "Centralized, nationwide electronic health records schemes under assault."
The gist of this article is that experience in the U.K. and elsewhere is that these large centralized repositories of health information cost lots of money and provide few if any of the promised efficiencies.
You correctly identify security as an issue, but privacy is every bit as important, and probably more difficult to protect with these systems. In fact, the CMA in 2011 approved Policy PD11-03, which requires doctors to tell patients "that the treating physician cannot control access and guarantee confidentiality for an electronic health record system."
This is because large numbers of people almost inevitably acquire access to these systems - abuses and the risk of abuses multiply accordingly. Compare and contrast to the blithe assurances of "bank-level firewalls" from proponents of these systems.
Executive director, B.C. Freedom of Information and Privacy Association
Policy director, B.C. Civil Liberties Association
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