[SEND ORIGINAL AND THREE COPIES, PREFERABLY WITH A 3.5-inch FLOPPY DISK in Adobe Acrobat PDF, Microsoft Word, Corel WordPerfect, or ASCII format, TO:]
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Dear Assistant Secretary:
This letter is in response to the proposed regulations on patient privacy published in the Federal Register of November 3, 1999.
I am a physician in a (solo office, group practice of __ physicians, hospital-based practice, etc.). My specialty is ____. I serve approximately _____ patients and have ___ employees. I am a (member/officer/director) of (AAPS, ___ County Medical Society, etc.), which is also very concerned about the impact of these rules.
We take our responsibility to assure patient privacy very seriously. Thus, we could not in good conscience include any material in patient records that could be harmful to the patient if disclosed under the greatly broadened access that would be mandated by federal law in the proposed regulation. We also fear that our ability to provide the best care will be seriously compromised because patients will withhold needed information. (Express in your own words.)
The cost to our office of implementing these regulations will probably be in excess of $_____/year or $ ___/patient visit. We would have to hire an expert even to interpret these very complex regulations. The Secretary has greatly underestimated the cost of compliance for offices like ours.
(Provide details on the effect of the rules on your use of electronic data transmission, your ability to offer services, the structure of your practice, your relationship with your patients, etc.)
These regulations go far beyond the mandate in the statute and would destroy the trust needed for a patient-physician relationship. The patient's records would be open to untold numbers of persons unknown to him, and for purposes unforeseen and possibly contrary to his best interests.
The patient, not the federal bureaucracy, should be the one to decide the permissible uses of his or her medical information.
These regulations should be rewritten to put patients in charge of the disposition of electronic medical information, rather than assuring broad access for any and all uses that may be authorized by agents of the federal government.
CC, Senators and Congressmen, medical societies, newspapers, civic organizations