Mangan’s: Be careful what you tell a doctor

He is writing from the US, and is concerned about the drive to place all medical records in computerized form. This initiative is also going on in Canada (my doctor said it was being rolled out it in stages in B.C., and he was among the first of the groups, apparently chosen at random).

His comments and the readers’ responses are interesting. Excerpt:

Personally I would now be very reluctant to tell a doctor if I had a problem with drugs of abuse, if I were depressed or had some other mental health issue, and I wouldn’t even want to tell him that I might have a couple drinks in the evening. He will put that in writing. Think about that. Suppose he asks you whether you smoke marijuana, or hey, even tobacco. If you answer yes, there is now a permanent record of your answer, and you are branded an evil weed user for life, whether you give marijuana or tobacco as your answer.

Apparently, in the US, anyway, certain government jobs require the applicant to give the government permission to access these records.

  • I thought doctor/patient confidentiality was a thing.

    • Drunk_by_Noon

      It’s not that big of a thing anymore, sometime it’s not a thing as all, beyond an abstraction.
      Is an abstraction still a thing?

    • Exile1981

      In Alberta all your records are on a central computer and accessible to anyone with an access code; that includes just about every health care worker.

      I figured it out when I dropped a prescription at the pharmacy and they could look up all the data of how long the family member had been taking the drug, how I used to use a different pharmacy to fill said prescriptions etc.

  • Minicapt

    The Vancouver Island Health Authority is mostly computerised these days.


  • Blacksmith

    Been going on here for years, you have a survey to fill out if you apply for a new doctor. I leave a lot of stuff blank on the survey form, because it is none of their business.

  • Medical information is supposed to require your informed consent for others to access.

    But like everything else regarding privacy rights in this country it’s slowly being turned on its head. All an adversary has to do is use the word “dangerous” and there are ways they can access your records — not only without your consent but without your knowledge. As soon as someone utters the word “dangerous” Canadian bureaucrats automatically go into emergency diarrhea mode, and they head for the shitter and “spill the beans” as it were.

    In fact, once an adversary was able to access my records when I myself was denied access to the records. In other words, apparently it was too dangerous for me to possess my own personal information, but it was apparently perfectly safe to give my info to an adversary who hated me and wished me dead! Sound Orwellian? Well it’s happening in Canada today. Space isn’t sufficient to detail precisely how a third party could do that (it required the cooperation of Social Workers, “friends of friends” in the medical and policing community, etc., and the ample exaggerated use of the word “dangerous” by my lying thieving adversary).

    In the end I was able to get someone fired from their job for the incident — but believe me that’s an almost impossible task in Canada. Most people simply don’t have time to be that proactive in protecting their privacy. Best thing is not to tell anyone — even your family Doctor — anything personal that you would not want a sworn enemy to know about you.