Protecting the confidentiality of HIV and AIDS patients: The implications of the electronic medical record

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Dana Loomis
Severly L. Stiles
Russell Porter


The Electronic Medical Record is fast becoming technologically essential in our increasingly complex and internet based communication society. However, our health care system has an ethical and legal duty to respect and protect patient confidentiality. Health information and the medical record reveal some of the most intimate aspects of an individual's life. The importance of protecting that information in an ever changing technological environment is essential. This overview presents the pros and cons of the Electronic Medical Record (EMR). We have integrated the concerns as they are relevant to HIV/AIDS patients since this illness is so very stigmatized and feared that introducing the EMR into the equation makes patient confidentiality an explosive issue. This is also a very timely synthesis of the issues since the Bush administration is pushing for a rapid switch from paper records to computerized systems. While much present attention is focused on the resources required to make the switch, less attention is paid to the ethical concerns that need to be addressed.

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