Another take on the privacy versus transparency debate

by jerry on September 22, 2011
Earlier, I posted a note on the issues of privacy versus transparency. Obviously, others are wrestling through the same issues as well; for example, this New York Times article highlights the federal government's decision to make physician discipline and malpractice actions information less available. This is obviously a step in the wrong direction for those of us who want patients to make informed decisions.

A history of disciplinary and malpractice actions is medically relevant. To say that doctors' privacy trumps patient empowerment would be akin to saying that companies should have a right to redact their profiles from sites like Better Business Bureau. Even if people were to successfully argue that a corporation is meaningfully different as a service provider than an individual, the government should still at least make disciplinary and malpractice actions available at the company (or practice) level.

What puzzles me is that an administration that campaigned on the promise of transparency threatened a reporter with civil fines for trying to uncover a story. Instead of working to make information more readily available, the government is "reviewing the public use file and may change it to further assure confidentiality." Really? What happened to patients' interests?