Health Care Analysis

, Volume 9, Issue 3, pp 321–335

Health Information: Reconciling Personal Privacy with the Public Good of Human Health

  • Lawrence O. Gostin

DOI: 10.1023/A:1012905932744

Cite this article as:
Gostin, L.O. Health Care Analysis (2001) 9: 321. doi:10.1023/A:1012905932744


The success of the health care system depends on the accuracy, correctness and trustworthiness of the information, and the privacy rights of individuals to control the disclosure of personal information. A national policy on health informational privacy should be guided by ethical principles that respect individual autonomy while recognizing the important collective interests in the use of health information. At present there are no adequate laws or constitutional principles to help guide a rational privacy policy. The laws are scattered and fragmented across the states. Constitutional law is highly general, without important specific safeguards. Finally, a case study is provided showing the important trade-offs that exist between public health and privacy. For a model public health law, see

ethicshealth informationprivacypublic health

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lawrence O. Gostin
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Georgetown UniversityWashingtonUSA
  2. 2.CDC-Collaborating Center for Law and the Public's HealthThe Johns Hopkins UniversityUSA