Electronic health information creating new legal issues

Electronic health records are creating a digital revolution, but also have created a unique set of legal issues, according to a webinar held May 26 by the American Bar Association's Health Law Section.

In addition to concerns about safeguarding the privacy and security of electronic health information, medical malpractice issues and concerns about EHRs abetting billing fraud--which affect providers using electronic health information--there also are new legal issues involving public health. For instance, public health agencies can perform their functions better by accessing the data in a health information exchange (HIE), but any contract between the HIE and the agency needs to be tailored for that particular type of access, warns Jonathan Karmel, associate counsel for the New York State Department of Health, speaking at the webinar.

Moreover, there are more than 2,000 electronic health information-related statutes and regulations in the United States, which vary significantly, points out Tara Ramanathan, a public health analyst with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who also spoke on the webinar. The CDC has started to study the various laws and their impact, if any, on public health. Abstract

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