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TMCNet:  Your Health: medical privacy

[November 12, 2012]

Your Health: medical privacy

Nov 12, 2012 (Richmond Times-Dispatch - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- RICHMOND, Va. -- Q: I needed to make an appointment with my doctor, so I looked up her phone number on the Internet.

It popped on a website called Healthgrades, and also included a telephone number to schedule an appointment. I assumed because it was my doctor's name and address, that it's their appointment line.

Someone asked for my name and birth date and then what doctor I was trying to schedule an appointment with. They then transferred me.

A: The reader's concern was that she had given her name and birth date to the person who answered. She had assumed she was talking to her doctor's office and was worried about medical privacy and confidentiality after finding out it wasn't.

"They're collecting all this information. ... It's very disturbing, at least to me," the reader said.

Healthgrades is a private service that reports information on health care providers -- including doctors and hospitals. Hospitals often use the Healthgrades rankings in marketing materials.

For many of the doctors on Healthgrades, the phone number listed in the contact information is to the doctor's office.

For some doctors who are part of the Bon Secours Richmond Health System, the number listed is (804) 554-3625.

A Bon Secours spokesman said that number is to a Bon Secours call center, not a Healthgrades call center.

It's similar to calling the Bon Secours 359-WELL telephone, another call center number for health system patients to use to sign up for seminars and schedule appointments, the spokeswoman said. (804) 649-6572 ___ (c)2012 the Richmond Times-Dispatch (Richmond, Va.) Visit the Richmond Times-Dispatch (Richmond, Va.) at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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