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How companies buy medical histories from MDs, nurses


From: "Dr. Joshua Kerbel" <Josh@idirect.com>
To: <declan@well.com>
Subject: Medical Privacy story
Date: Mon, 8 Jan 2001 11:12:00 -0500
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: multipart/related;
X-Priority: 3
X-MSMail-Priority: Normal

This may interest other readers


Up for sale: Your secret health files

Companies buy medical histories from MDs, nurses
Tyler Hamilton

Dr. James Sears calls himself North America's top medical investigator. So 
if you've got any skeletons in your closet, watch out: Prying eyes may be 

Two years ago, Sears decided to launch a service that performs medical 
background checks for companies wanting to verify the health history of job 

The idea was to sniff out records - increasingly in electronic format - 
that reveal undisclosed medical conditions that could result in numerous 
sick days and low productivity somewhere down the road.

``We do something nobody else in Canada does,'' says Sears, founder of The 
Second Opinion, a Toronto-based business. ``In five years, we feel it will 
be as commonplace as checking references on a resume.''

To date, his clients have included Canadian Tire and the Toronto Transit 

Sears says he doesn't need access to the Internet to carry out his 
investigations. Rather, his methods are much more simple: Make phone calls 
to doctors' offices and hospitals, and request data from receptionists, 
nurses and administrators who generally have access to computer medical 

Most times he has permission to carry out his checks through consent 
provisions on job applications. ``If you don't, then you have to do a lot 
of hunting and digging. And we have our ways of doing that,'' he says.

As a special report on privacy in today's @Biz section shows, it has never 
been easier to collect personal health, financial and consumer information 
in this age of electronic government and online commerce.


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