WASHINGTON, D.C. -- When you go to the doctor, chances are privacy is a priority for you. And doctors are now getting financial incentives from the government to use electronic records.
Action News Kyla Campbell uncovered all sorts of privacy concerns with those high-tech changes, meaning now, more than ever, it could be easier for your private information to go public.
Medical privacy is getting extra attention right now because of the growth in electronic health records.
The government is offering financial incentives to hospitals that go paperless by the end of 2015.
The US Department of Health says of the five-thousand hospitals nationwide that accept Medicare and Medicaid, 84-percent now use electronic health records.
Dr. Deborah Peel is a practicing psychiatrist and the founder of a group called "Patient Privacy Rights." Peel says the technology allows more sharing of private health information without defining exactly who has access. She says there are not enough protections for patients.
"Our ethics requires us, requires us, to fight against laws that harm our patients."
Back in 2003, the US Department of Health wrote new medical privacy laws.
Read the fine print. The forms say doctors can share your records with anyone involved in your treatment, payment, and healthcare operations. The rule covers labs, pharmaceutical companies and more.
"We don't know the risks, if we don't know where the information is," said Peel. "We don't know who is using it and why."
Dr. Peel says companies have admitted to buying health records online to determine whether to hire or promote employees, even though it's illegal.
"And I really think when the public finds this out, they're going to blame the doctors."
Peel's group has patient privacy rights toolkit form
that you can download and take to your doctor to ensure your medical privacy.
The US Department of Health has a video
to explain how information can be shared.