March 15, 2007

Bioethicist-in-Residence to speak in Carbondale, Springfield Expert to discuss medical records, privacy issues

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. — One of the nation's leading experts on public health law and bioethics will present a lecture on protecting patients' health privacy later this month at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

Mark A. Rothstein will discuss "Health Privacy in an Electronic Age," at 5 p.m., Wednesday, March 21, in the Life Science III Auditorium. The lecture is free and open to the public.

Rothstein is the inaugural John and Marsha Ryan Bioethicist-in-Residence for the SIU School of Law Center for Health Law and Policy. In addition to presenting the lecture at SIUC, Rothstein will meet with public health law students and a hospital ethics committee on Thursday, March 22.

Rothstein holds the Herbert F. Boehl Chair of Law and Medicine, and is director of the Institute for Bioethics, Health Policy and Law at the University of Louisville School of Medicine.


Media Advisory

In addition to covering the lecture, reporters and photographers may meet with Mark A. Rothstein at 3:30 p.m., Wednesday, March 21, in the law school's formal lounge in Carbondale. Reporters and photographers in the Springfield area may cover Rothestein's March 23 lecture, where he will be available for interviews at about 9 a.m.


He will also present a lecture, "Bioethics in Pharmacogenomics," to medical, health and legal professionals at the SIU School of Medicine's South Auditorium at 8 a.m., Friday, March 23. Rothstein also will meet with the School of Medicine's Emergency Health Records team, and the Department of Medical Humanities faculty.

Physicians often receive a patient's medical information from patient-provided, often incomplete paper-based medical histories during initial office visits, which is a formula for problems, said Marshall B. Kapp, health law center co-director and Garwin Distinguished Professor of Law and Medicine.

Relying on a patient's memory of previous medical procedures also potentially impacts health care costs with repeated and unnecessary tests, Kapp said.

"The way the health care system so far has handled medical information is way behind the times as compared with other kinds of industries," he said.

"There should be a way that every patient has a permanent unified medical record that is made available from one health care provider to another that contains more accurate, more timely information that would improve continuity of care," he said.

But Kapp, and W. Eugene Basanta, health law center co-director and the Southern Illinois Healthcare Professor of Law, both recognize problems also exist with technological advances. There is a concern that highly confidential and private information can be compromised, in addition to high initial costs to hospitals, independent physicians and other health care providers.

Rothstein is chair of the National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics' subcommittee on privacy and confidentiality, the statutory advisory committee to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on health information policies, including the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act privacy regulations. In June 2006, NCVHS made 26 recommendations regarding privacy and confidentiality in the Nationwide Health Information Network.

Rothstein has been critical of the federal government for not moving quickly enough in terms of privacy and protection of medical records. A February 5, 2007, issue of Modern Healthcare notes that Rothstein recommended during a congressional subcommittee hearing that "Congress withhold funding for the national healthcare network until Health and Human Services 'makes significant progress on protecting privacy.' "

Kapp and Basanta said the American health care system and bioethics are important to physicians, attorneys and members of the general public who deal with bioethical issues daily when they or family members are patients.

Prior to coming to the University of Louisville School of Medicine, Rothstein served as director of the Health Law and Policy Institute at the University of Houston. He is the immediate past president of the American Society of Law, Medicine & Ethics.

Rothstein earned his bachelor's degree from the University of Pittsburgh, and his law degree from Georgetown University.

An important part of the John and Marsha Ryan Bioethicist-in-Residence Distinguished Visiting Lecture is the interaction with students and faculty, Basanta and Kapp said. The endowment provides programs by a leading bioethicist scholar at both the School of Law in Carbondale and the School of Medicine in Springfield.

John C. and Marsha G. Ryan of rural Murphysboro provided funding to create the endowment in May 2006. A Carbondale surgeon, Marsha Ryan earned her law degree from SIUC in 1987. John Ryan, a partner in the Carbondale law firm, Feirich, Mager, Green, Ryan, was a member of the law school's inaugural graduating class in 1976.