The shift to longitudinal, comprehensive electronic health records (EHRs) means that any health care provider (e.g., dentist, pharmacist, physical therapist) or third-party user of the EHR (e.g., employer, life insurer) will be able to access much health information of questionable clinical utility and possibly of great sensitivity. Genetic test results, reproductive health, mental health, substance abuse, and domestic violence are examples of sensitive information that many patients would not want routinely available. The likely policy response is to give patients the ability to segment information in their EHRs and to sequester certain types of sensitive information, thereby limiting routine access to the totality of a patient’s health record. This article explores the likely effect on the physician-patient relationship of patient-directed sequestration of sensitive health information, including the ethical and legal consequences.
Rothstein MA. The Hippocratic Bargain and Health Information Technology. J Law Med Ethics. 2010 Spring;38(1):7-13.