Saturday, April 3, 2010

Medical Records and Privacy

The Oklahoma legislature is considering a bill that would limit autopsy results "and many other pieces of information" from becoming public record. This bill is being pushed by the Oklahoma Bureau of Investigation, claiming the release of the information covered in the bill hampers some criminal investigations.

This bill moved swiftly through the Oklahoma house and was successfully passed. It awaits only the senate's approval for the bill to become law. As of this date, however, the bill has been removed from the senate's list of considerations.

I am pleased that this bill will probably not receive a senate vote during this legislature session. While I am concerned with the "many other pieces of information" that the bill might withhold from the public, I fervently believe that autopsy results should not fall under the Oklahoma Open Records Act.

Autopsy results are, after all, a person's final medical records. As such, I believe that privacy is assured to all individuals. If the autopsy reveals a crime involved with the person's death, those results will become a matter of public record through court transcripts. I can't think of any other cases where the public has a need to know why an individual died.

Those who need to know autopsy results for closure to their grief will already be in the "loop;" they will receive the information from the medical examiner's office.

It is my hope that I will pass away at a ripe old age from natural causes and no autopsy will be warranted, but if circumstances dictate otherwise, I want the information from this medical examination of my body and fluids to be known only to those who cared for me while I lived.

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