Is your health privacy disappearing in the name of COVID-19 safety? Do you care?
In McHenry County, Illinois, a judge has ruled that if you have COVID-19, your name is being sent to law enforcement, reports CNS
The Chicago Tribune reported the following:
“On Friday, McHenry County Judge Michael Chmiel entered a temporary restraining order mandating that the Health Department disclose to police the names of those actively infected with COVID-19.”
“The Health Department refused to reveal the names, prosecutors stated in a news release. Health departments have typically cited privacy concern in withholding such information, specifically the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.”
“While we are compelled to provide the information,” MCDH said in a statement released Saturday, it remains the health department’s “professional health opinion” that providing patients’ identities to police is excessive:
“In MCDH’s professional public health opinion, given what we know about how this disease spreads, the general lack of testing, epidemiological data and the stay-at-home order, providing the personal names of cases exceeds the minimum information needed to protect law enforcement.
“Five law enforcement agencies disagreed and filed suit, demanding the names of patients having tested positive. Friday evening, the court issued a temporary order to release the names. While we are compelled to provide this information, MCDH has requested the tightest control of this private medical information, whereby it will be provided only to the Emergency Telephone System Board (ETSB-911) for dissemination on a call-by-call basis.”
Five different law enforcement agencies in McHenry County want this information. Given how law enforcement and other governmental agencies leak information intentionally and unintentionally, how safe are your health records? Not very, is my estimation.
This is a potentially dangerous precedence. This most likely won’t stop with COVID-19, but will be applied to any public health safety threat.
Are we ready to have law enforcement eyes on our health records?