For Immediate Release:
September 26, 2000
Gallup Survey Finds
About Medical Privacy Runs Deep
Don't Want Third Parties Seeing
Their Medical Records Without Their Permission
(Washington, D.C.) -- An overwhelming majority of Americans
do not want the government or other third parties to
have access to their medical records--including genetic
information--without their permission. This deep concern
about the confidentiality of their medical affairs was
revealed in a new Gallup survey commissioned by the
Institute for Health Freedom. The results were released
at a news conference today at the National Press Club
in Washington, D.C. Key findings include:
- 78 percent feel it is very important
that their medical records be kept confidential.
- 93 percent say that medical and government
researchers should not be allowed to study an individual's
genetic information unless they first obtain
his or her consent.
- 92 percent oppose allowing government
agencies to see their medical records without
their permission; 82 percent object to insurance
companies gaining access without permission; and
67 percent oppose researchers seeing
their medical records without the patient's permission.
- 91 percent oppose a federal requirement to
assign everyone a medical identification number,
similar to a Social Security number, to create a national
"The Gallup survey results show that individuals clearly
do not want government agencies or private groups accessing
their medical information without their permission,"
said Sue Blevins, president of the Institute for Health
Freedom. "Any new law or regulation--whether federal
or state--that strips Americans of their right to determine
who sees their medical records is going against the
will of the majority of citizens. Consent has always
been viewed as a fundamental human right and the Gallup
poll confirms that Americans strongly support that right
when it comes to determining who can access their medical
and genetic information," Blevins stressed.
Boise State University professor Charlotte Twight,
who has written extensively about medical- privacy legislation,
commented on the survey results: "There no longer is
any doubt that the public is vitally concerned about
medical privacy; the challenge now is how to make policymakers
respect the public's clearly expressed views."
The Gallup survey, titled "Public Attitudes Toward
Medical Privacy," was conducted by telephone with 1,000
adults nationwide between August 11 and August 26, 2000.
The margin of error is plus or minus 3 percent. The
survey report can be viewed in its entirety at the Institute
for Health Freedom's Web site (http://www.forhealthfreedom.org/Gallupsurvey).