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Americans Don't Trust Feds to Protect Patient Health Record Database

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, January 27, 2010

Nearly two-thirds of Americans who answered a phone survey last month said they do not trust the federal government–including the U.S. Health and Human Services Agency–to protect their health record privacy.

A whopping 84% said they were not aware Uncle Sam may launch a national health record database.

Respondents were more likely to say they trust healthcare providers, such as hospitals, clinics, and physicians, to keep their medical records private.

Those were two of many findings from a survey released this week by the Ponemon Institute, a Michigan-based research organization that studies privacy, data protection, and information security. The survey is considered a window into the thinking of the country's citizens as the nation embarks on creating a massive electronic health record infrastructure, built to a great extent with federal dollars.

The institute asked 14,599 people to respond to about 20 questions, most of them dealing with health records or demographic information.

Of the 883 people who completed the survey, 56% said they disagreed or strongly disagreed with the statement that the creation and implementation of a national database containing Americans health information is a good idea; 19% were unsure.

In response to another question, 48% disagreed or strongly disagreed with the statement that a national database operated by the federal government will not diminish privacy rights; 19% were unsure.

And 37% disagreed or strongly disagreed with the statement that a national database operated by private industry will not diminish privacy rights; 29% were unsure.

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