Psychiatric patients get a bit of privacy back

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healthcareA court ordered last week that the national care monitor NZA can no longer demand of psychiatrists that they provide details about their patients’ mental health problems.

Nationale Zorg Autoriteit, which monitors the application of the health care laws and sets prices where necessary, bases its rates for psychiatric care on so-called ‘diagnosis-treatment combinations’ (DBCs) and requires psychiatrists to report the DBCs they have used for specific patients.

The court (College van Beroep voor het bedrijfsleven, i.e. ‘college of appeal for businesses’) held on August 2 that since insurance company employees who were not bound by medical confidentiality had access to the DBCs, the NZA had not given enough weight to the privacy interests of patients.

NZA now gets to go back to the drawing board and come up with new plans for a rate structure that does not (or to a lesser extent) compromise patients’ privacy.

Last year, political blog Sargasso already pointed out that once these data are out from under the protective umbrella of medical confidentiality, they can easily be abused by for instance the government, which could, for example, decide not to hire somebody as a civil servant based on their detailed medical history.

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