3. What your hospital knows about you
Every trip to a doctor's office or hospital adds more information to a deep, comprehensive record of who you are — physically, emotionally and even financially. In the latest installment of our series on what data is held by whom, Axios' Bob Herman looks at what hospitals know about their patients.
Why it matters: Health care data breaches are more common than ever, putting our most sensitive personal information at risk of exposure and misuse.
How it works: A vast majority of doctors' offices and hospitals now use digitized records systems, and even though electronic health records have pitfalls, they can help patients and the health care system overall.
Yes, but: "No one truly understands there's no such thing as deleting information from a health care file," said Pam Dixon, executive director of the World Privacy Forum. "You cannot push the rewind button."
- The federal law called HIPAA limits the ways doctors and hospitals can share patients' health data. However, intentional hacking and inadvertent leaks are still common.
- And it's often difficult to access your own records — to see for yourself what your doctor or hospital is able to see about you.
The medical details: Health records house more information than most people may realize.
- They contain all the obvious stuff: your vitals, any procedures and prescription drugs.
- Plus anything else you tell your doctor, such as drinking habits, marital problems or admitting responsibility in a car accident.
The financial details: Insurance and contact information are always on file with your debit and credit card numbers.
The bottom line: All of this can be exposed in data breaches, but also in medical malpractice lawsuits, workers' compensation lawsuits or custody disputes.
Go deeper: Bob has more here.