Privacy Rights of the Deceased Could Change
HEALTHCARE PRIVACY—U.S.September 17, 2010
The Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT) reports on a Department of Health and Human Services proposal to remove health information privacy protections for people who have been dead for 50 years. Currently, the law requires companies to contact the deceased's relatives before using their medical data, but the proposed rule argues that it's difficult to locate relatives for authorization and that waiting 50 years would protect the privacy of the deceased and their families. The CDT, however, disagrees. It argues that patients already withhold embarrassing conditions from doctors and will likely withhold information they believe may be detrimental to their legacies and could affect the privacy of their offspring. Meanwhile, some researchers are arguing that medical research on mummies invades their privacy because it does not allow for patient consent.