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Supersensitive supersecrecy.

Supersensitive supersecrecy

At UNISYS Corp.s defense group computer facility in Camarillo, Calif., workers are putting final touches on a new data bank set to go on line within the next six months. The computer system will house information so secret that even high-ranking government officials will have no direct access by telephone links. Instead, information will be entered by hand from sealed, written reports and, upon request, distributed to qualified personnel via the mail--perhaps in double-wrapped envelopes that will not give away the nature of their contents.

What information could be so sensitive? Nothing less than a national compilation of all professional reprimands against individual physicians, dentists and other health care practitioners along with detailed accounts of any malpractice payments made by these practitioners.

Last week the federal government published its description of the new system, stirring controversy for its decision to deny individuals and health care advocacy groups access to the computer's contents. Physician organizations want the data kept out of non-physician hands for fear they will be misinterpreted by consumers. Patient advocates counter that such information could help people choose health care providers.

The new plan allows licensing boards, health care facilities and individuals who are the subjects of reports access to reports. Hospitals must check the records of medical staff applicants and must periodically review their staffers' records.
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Title Annotation:computer security for medical malpractice database
Publication:Science News
Date:Oct 28, 1989
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