The threat to the privacy of medical records is discussed based on the increased access being granted to insurance companies, employers, civil litigants, investigators, doctors' billing offices, social service institutions, medical researchers, computer data processors, and labor unions. The author concludes that it is the individual who is most concerned about the confidentiality of his records as his employability potential and promotional prospects are affected by his health. Strong arguments also can be made for the propriety of government health and safety agencies, insurers, and employers (who are often subject to litigation and who are encouraged by OSHA to investigate possible threats to occupational safety and health) to have the right to this information. Reservations are expressed about the broad position OSHA has taken with respect to NIOSH and OSHA access to medical information without an employees' consent or knowledge and without protection against future circulation. The author suggests that consent, release, and data protection safeguards be included in OSHA policy.
Occupational Safety and Health Symposia 1978, Division of Technical Services, NIOSH, Cincinnati, Ohio