Thursday, 9 January 2014

Our weather forecast shows

the temperature will rise steadily into the low (and perhaps mid) forties for the coming week. No, I will not be a happy cat. The Senior Cat will also be frustrated beyond measure. He wants to be in his beloved shed - and it will be far too hot for that. The temperature there can rise to well over 50'C on a hot day.
I also have a heat rash - which makes me even more growly and irritable than usual. I will do the shopping early this morning - and visit the chemist to see whether there is something I can use to ease the itchiness of the rash. Sigh!
Now, I don't mind admitting to heat rash but I do wonder how I would feel if I had something seriously wrong with me and someone hacked into my medical records. How would you feel?
There was a proposal here to put all our medical records onto a national medical data base - so that they could be accessed from anywhere in the country. In theory that seems a very sensible idea. If you are on holiday or visiting another part of the country for work and something happens then the medical staff have access to what might be life-saving information.
There are problems however. The first is that the information needs to be kept up to date. That might happen if you visit your own doctor on a regular basis and s/he writes up the notes as you visit. I suspect most doctors do that these days. Do any of them actually write old-fashioned cards these days?
The next problem is what do they write? Is it accurate? Probably not - although I do not doubt most of them do their best. I had to remind my usually competent GP of something the last time I visited. Oddly the nurse I see once a year for a blood test - and who does not keep any records in her office - remembered me and the issue. Hmmm.
I also suspect that computerised records stop some doctors (and perhaps other staff) writing useful comments like, "hypochondriac" or "always arguing" or "refuses to take advice/medication" or "self-medicates" or "unstable" or whatever else it is that they wrote as reminders to themselves and their fellow doctors. 
And the reason for that of course is that anything on a computer can be hacked. Nothing is safe. A national medical data base would be no more secure than anything else - and we know how safe the supposedly most secure of records has turned out to be.
I know my medical records are on computer at the clinic I attend. There is not much I can do about that. Could they be hacked? I have no doubt at all that they could be. I don't think there is anything there that I would be worried about the world knowing but that does not mean I want the world to know. Why should they? It's my business, not theirs.
It would not be long before a medical data base was also made available to other government departments. Potential employers would no doubt argue for access - and at least other government departments would get it.
I don't doubt that any records which have been kept about me and are on a computer data base would be available to the world if someone chose to find them and publish them. The same would be true of anyone else. It does not make me paranoid - but it does make me wary.
You doubt it? Some years ago two primary school boys hacked into the computer system at their school. They did not do it for nefarious reasons but to show the staff that the system was not in the least bit secure - they were eleven year old boys without much experience at all and, they claim, it took them less than half an hour to do it.
I carry essential medical information with me. It's in a little green and white ambulance service folder. It is instantly available without access to a computer. I hope it is never needed. What more do you want? 

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