[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The threat of bioterrorism in the wake of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks cannot be ignored. Syndromic surveillance, the practice of electronically monitoring and reporting real-time medical data to proactively identify unusual disease patterns, highlights the conflict between safeguarding public health while protecting individual privacy. Both the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act and the Common Rule (which promulgates protections for individuals in federally sponsored medical research programs) safeguard individuals. Public health law protects the entire populace; uneven state-level implementation lacks adequate privacy protections. We propose 3 models for a nationwide bioterrorism surveillance review process: a nationally coordinated systems approach to using protected health information, creating public health information privacy boards, expanding institutional review boards, or some combination of these.
American Journal of Public Health 06/2008; 98(5):802-7. DOI:10.2105/AJPH.2007.113332 · 4.55 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Imposing tort liability on parents who fail to vaccinate their children would not serve the public health and public policy interests that drive childhood immunization efforts. The public policy goals of vaccination are to slow the spread of disease and to reduce mortality and morbidity. Our country’s public health laws already play a substantial role in furthering these goals. Although application of tort law may be an appropriate response to some of the problems that result from vaccination noncompliance, there also is a need to cultivate public understanding of the connection between individual actions and collective wellbeing. It is doubtful that the imposition of individual tort liability will achieve this goal.