Contact: Kathryn Serkes, 202-333-3855
New Poll: Doctors Lie To Protect Patient Privacy
Physicians Almost Unanimous in Opposition to HIPAA 'Privacy' Rules
A mailed survey of 344 physicians conducted by the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) shows almost unanimous opposition to the HHS privacy rules, scheduled for full implementation in 2003. A whopping 96 percent thought the rules would further compromise patient privacy. Some of the other questions provide further clues about the practical effects of the rules.
The poll results were disclosed at a news conference today in Washington, D.C. by AAPS Public Affairs Counsel, Kathryn Serkes, in conjunction with the announcement of a lawsuit against HHS to be filed by AAPS challenging the new regulations.
"The rules may create a massive federal mandate that requires every doctor to share patients' records with the federal government without patient consent," said Serkes. "Even more alarming is that patients may be refused medical treatment if they won't consent to disclosure."
But physicians already believe that third-parties ask for information that they believe to violate confidentiality, with 51 percent reporting such requests from government agencies and 70 percent from health plans.
Nearly 87 percent reported that a patient had asked that information be kept out of the record, and nearly 78 percent of physicians said that they had indeed withheld information from a patient's record due to privacy concerns. While only 19 percent admit to lying to protect a patient's privacy, 74 percent state that they have withheld information for that reason.
"Patients are withholding information, and doctors are lying because of privacy concerns," said Serkes. "The obvious conclusion is that these rules will only exacerbate the situation to the point of distorted, incomplete and potentially dangerous medical records becoming the norm. Physicians' ethics will be further challenged, the choice between government compliance and lying for a patient."
"While masquerading as patient protection, the rules would actually eliminate any last shred of confidentiality and risk lives," concluded Serkes AAPS is a national association of physicians founded in 1943 to protect the sanctity of the patient-physician relationship from intrusion of third parties.