Privacy of Medical Information in California
There are times that other people would like to access your medical records. For example, your employer may like to know if you have a serious disease that could put you out of commission, or even if you have a mental problem. Insurance companies would like to access medical information in order to increase your premiums. Attorneys want to access medical records to stop you from winning a lawsuit.
However, stringent privacy laws in California have made it difficult for other people to access your medical information. Unlike the Federal Constitution, the California Constitution specifically protects a person’s medical information privacy.
The premier medical privacy statute in California is the Confidentiality of Medical Information Act (CIMA). CIMA protects the medical history, condition, and treatment of ailments, including sexually transmitted diseases, rapes, and mental diseases. A health care provider must not disclose medical information unless authorized by the proper court of law, law enforcement or health agency, or other governmental entity.
Another California medical privacy statute is the Insurance Information and Privacy Protection Act (IIPPA). This act prevents insurers and their agencies from revealing certain medical information obtained about a client.
Finally, there is the Lanterman-Petris-Short Act, which broadly prohibits providers of healthcare services from disclosing patients’ private information, except to the courts as necessary for justice.
The above medical information privacy laws keep Californians secure in the knowledge that they will not be fired from their jobs as a result of consulting with a doctor about their health problems. For a health care system to work at all, patients need to completely trust that their doctor will not share their private, and often embarrassing, health information.
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Last Modified: 11-13-2012 03:05 PM PST
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