Swedish patient confidentiality = doctors using medical journals as pornography

Swedish patient confidentiality = doctors using medical journals as pornography

February 18, 2015
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In yesterday’s Läkartidningen, the periodical of the Swedish doctor’s association, one could read that an immigrant physician had illegally browsed patient’s journals on 177 different occasions, going through the files of individuals who weren’t even his own patients. He’s been convicted in court over this, but he still maintains employment and keeps his license in spite of this.

This isn’t the first time something like this happens. In spite of how our government claims to have the best patient confidentiality and protection of personal integrity in the world, physicians do actually have access to read anyone’s patient’s journals. Certainly it’s regulated that this should only take place in the course of practicing one’s profession, but the frequent lawsuits that come up show that this is a privilege that’s routinely abused.

Like a hardened criminal, the doctor in this case states that he’s “logged in by mistake,” just like a burglar who’s been caught in the act says “he was only in the neighborhood.” The target of his searches were almost exclusively young women. Was this perhaps an attempt to locate vulnerable individuals for the sake of marrying them? These patient’s journals give immense insight into a person’s problems, so an exploitatively inclined doctor could definitely get the patient into a state of dependency through the information in question.

And the very same day one also wrote on the homepage of Vårdförbundet (the nurses’ association) about the case that was unveiled last December, the one where psychiatric clinic “We mind” had committed a blunder and done a mass mailing to patients – with everyone’s addresses visible. Hence everyone on the list was exposed as a patient at this clinic. Such violations of confidentiality cause considerable harm to affected individuals, and our government likes to pretend that existing legislation prohibits such incidents, yet “mistakes” occur on a regular basis, and supposedly confidential information has a habit of finding its way around. If one government worker knows something about you, they all will soon enough. This has been a reality in Sweden for a long time, I guess it won’t be long until it is in America too with the Affordable Healthcare Act.

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Daniel Hammarberg

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