Biloxi doctor concerned about medical privacy laws - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Biloxi doctor concerned about medical privacy laws

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BILOXI, MS (WLOX) -

Are your medical records are private as you think? A Biloxi physician said, probably not. Family practitioner Dr. Paul Matherne said the issues surrounding patient confidentiality concern him so much that he recently wrote a letter to editor about what is making him ill at ease. 

Dr. Matherne said last week a pharmacy called his office asking for six months worth of medical records just so a patient could fill a prescription for blood glucose testing strips.

"My concern is where does this privacy law, HIPPA law, get divided?" said Dr. Matherne. "That history might include something psychological about them. It might be something about belly pains. Maybe there is some stress in their life or heart problems. Why does all of that have to be given in their chart to be reviewed by the drug store. In this case, it is actually reviewed by Medicare, to justify just giving them something that deals with Diabetes."

Dr. Matherne said Medicare told him when patients sign up for the program, it is an implied release of all medical records to Medicare and other health organizations. He said the same goes for private insurance.

"Whether we get our insurance through a commercial company or whether we're going to have our medical care given through Medicare that it does appear through this HIPPA law that we are giving up our rights to be able to say 'Yes' or 'No, I don't want my records to be reviewed,'" said Dr. Matherne.

While he realizes that physicians and hospitals must share records for the good of the patient, Dr. Matherne worries that same information could be held against patients by health insurance providers. He thinks patients may be less forthcoming with their doctors out of fear. Then doctors will have a more difficult time making a diagnosis.

"I feel as if down the road they are going to question us," said Dr. Matherne. "How do you take care of your blood sugar? How do you take care of your blood pressure? How do you take care of your cholesterol? They're going to want to see how I perform and how you may perform. If we aren't performing right, they may come back and say, 'Let's make you pay higher premiums or maybe we don't let you have this insurance at all.'"

Dr. Matherne says each year Medicare adds new rules about how he keeps his records. One example is insisting he writes his name on all paperwork. He says if the records don't meet every requirement, Medicare will withhold payment.

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