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Catholics Have Absolute Right to Health Privacy, Say PRI Experts at Patient Privacy Summit

FRONT ROYAL, VA, 6/11/12: — The recent 2nd International Patient Privacy Summit, held in Washington, DC on June 6-7, 2012, brought together leading experts in the field to discuss the issue of health privacy in America.

Steve Mosher, President of PRI, who chaired a panel on “Cultural Perspectives on Religion and Privacy” at the event, pointed out that “Catholic Church teaching recognizes that individuals have an absolute right to own their own health records and genetic material.”

Jennifer Kimball, Director of Culture of Life Foundation, stressed the importance of health record privacy: “Genetic blueprints, records that identify our person and our past, present and future health, once taken from the confidential doctor-patient relationship and given to outside entities, cannot be controlled by the patient, and may be used in ways that are damaging to the patient or in conflict with his or her moral values.”

Kimball quoted from the Pontifical Council for Pastoral Assistance’s _Charter for Healthcare Workers_, which states that “the ethical norm, founded on respect for the dignity of the person, should illuminate and discipline both the research stage and the application of the results obtained from it.”

The Pontifical Academy for Life, in its _Prospects for Xenotransplantation_, struck some of the same notes, “We can indicate personal identity as the relation of an individual’s unrepeatability and essential core to his being a person (ontological level) and feeling that he is a person (psychological level).  Personal identity constitutes a good of the person, an intrinsic quality of his very being, and thus a moral value upon which to base the right and duty to promote and defend the integrity of the personal identity of every individual.”

We must protect patient privacy in America, through robust patient-centered controls on electronic health records,  if we are to maintain the dignity and personal identity of the individual.

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