Survey Finds Most Online Pharmacies Do Not Give HIPAA Privacy Notices


Readability consultant Mark Hochhauser, Ph.D., in cooperation with the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, conducted a survey of 50 online pharmacy web sites from mid-April through July 9, 2004. Of the 50, a scant 11 sites (22%) included a HIPAA privacy notice as required by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under the federal medical privacy rule.

Study Shows Most Online Pharmacies Lack HIPAA Privacy Notice


The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse (PRC)1, along with readability expert Mark Hochhauser, Ph.D., is writing to call your attention to a recent survey of online pharmacies, and, in particular, the failure of most sites to post a HIPAA Privacy Notice.

In conducting this survey, Dr. Hochhauser visited 50 online pharmacy web sites. Of the 50, only 11 sites (22%) included a HIPAA Privacy Notice. The 11 sites that had a HIPAA privacy notice also posted a web site privacy policy.

Comments Regarding the Use of Personal Medical Data by Financial Institutions


The proposed rule generally prohibits a creditor from obtaining and using medical information for making decisions about a consumer's credit eligibility. The rule then makes an exception that allows creditors to obtain and use financial information that happens to be related to medical debts, expenses and income.

Compliance vs. Communication: Readability of HIPAA Notices (Hochhauser)


In April 2003, patients in the US began receiving Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) privacy notices from their doctors, hospitals, clinics, pharmacies, and other "covered entities" that use their personal health information. As part of the HIPAA regulatory guidelines, privacy notices were to be written in "plain language." They are not.

Groups Oppose Data Mining of Health Information by Financial Institutions


Today, the Health Privacy Project (HPP), the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), and 28 other groups, including the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, sent a letter to U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson, opposing any changes to the new medical privacy regulation that would give a green light to banks and other financial institutions to access sensitive, personal medical information. The organizations include health care advocacy, labor, consumer, disability rights, and health care provider groups.

Albertsons' Pharmacies: Complaint for Violations of CA Business and Professions Code Sections 17200, et seq.


Albertsons promotes their access to its customers'/consumers' confidential medical information to pharmaceutical companies anxious to increase the name recognition and sale of their drugs. Albertsons secretly enters into commercial arrangements with pharmaceutical companies willing to pay to participate in the Drug Marketing Program. Albertsons then allows these pharmaceutical companies to participate in using the consumers' medical information for direct marketing (either directly by Albertsons or through direct marketing services companies) that increases the sale of targeted drugs. The pharmaceutical companies fully finance the Drug Marketing Program.

Health Privacy: The Way We Live Now (Gellman)


A colleague called last week to discuss medical privacy. It was a personal matter. He recently had a medical procedure that he did not describe. He doesn't want me or anyone to know anything about his diagnosis or treatment. I didn't ask for details. For purpose of this article, I will identify my friend as Fred (not his real name).

Fred was contacted by a researcher who got his name from his physician. Fred was surprised at the call because he didn't give permission for his information to be disclosed to any researcher. It wasn't clear whether the researcher knew anything about Fred's condition. The study was designed to compare people who did and did not have the same condition so the physician may have only said that Fred qualified for the study. Fred couldn't ask more without disclosing the information that he was trying to keep secret.

PRC Comments on Proposed HHS - Medical Records Privacy Rule


Even though the proposed rule lays the foundation for the implementation of fair information principles, it takes several steps backward and gravely endangers patient privacy in a number of areas, explained below. Because of the significant shortcomings of the proposed rule, in addition to the relatively limited opportunity for individuals to have been apprised of and comment on the rule, the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse recommends that the proposed rule be withdrawn and redrafted.

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