NEGATIVE MEDICAL SOLVENCY 247
ANONYMOUS MEDICAL RECORDS CAN BE REIDENTIFIED
IT IS ESY TO IDENTIFY INDIVIDUALS FROM ANONYMOUS MEDICAL RECORDS
JANE E. ALLEN, Los Angeles Times, February 8, 1999, SECTION: Health; Part S; Page 1; TITLE: A NEW PUSH IS ON FOR PATIENTS' PRIVACY LAW// acs-EE2001
That's easier said than done. Latanya Sweeney, an assistant professor of public policy at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, demonstrated how easy it is to pierce the privacy in so-called anonymous medical records.
Even when names have been stripped off records that contain date of birth, sex, race and diagnosis, she can reidentify the individuals by cross-referencing with a $ 20 voter registration list.
'Anonymous' Records Are Identified
In one instance, she looked at data from the city of Cambridge, Mass., population 54,000, and was able to identify former Gov. William Weld because only five people in the city--and only one in his ZIP Code--had his date of birth.