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Academic Medicine:
doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e3181dc9152
Letters to the Editor

Intrusive Inquiry Threatens the Privacy of Physicians' Personal Health Information

Schroeder, Robin MD; Brazeau, Chantal M. L. R. MD; Rovi, Sue PhD

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Assistant professor, Department of Family Medicine, UMDNJ–New Jersey Medical School, Newark, New Jersey; schroers@umdnj.edu. (Schroeder)

Associate professor, Department of Family Medicine, UMDNJ–New Jersey Medical School, Newark, New Jersey. (Brazeau)

Associate professor, Department of Family Medicine, UMDNJ–New Jersey Medical School, Newark, New Jersey. (Rovi)

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In Reply:

We agree that the new process in Massachusetts seems to provide an excellent model for physician credentialing. The application form asks about the applicant's ability to “perform the essential functions of the position for which you have applied or of the privileges you have requested, with or without a reasonable accommodation, according to accepted standards of professional performance and without posing a direct threat to patients or staff.”1 As discussed in our article, this is appropriate.

Additionally, the “Applicant's Authorization and Release” asks the applicant to allow inquiry to any party having “information bearing on my credentials, competence, professional performance, clinical skills, judgment, character and ethical qualifications, and to inspect such records which shall be material to the evaluation of my professional qualifications and competence to carry out the privileges I am requesting, as well as to my moral and ethical qualifications.”1 This release appears to allow thorough information gathering regarding an applicant's ability to practice, yet it does not ask for release of physical or mental health information. Additionally, it is most impressive that this state managed an industry collaboration that has standardized the process for physician credentialing by health plans and hospitals and created one uniform application. This simplification of the credentialing process, alone, will help to improve the physical and mental health of providers in Massachusetts!

Robin Schroeder, MD

Assistant professor, Department of Family Medicine, UMDNJ–New Jersey Medical School, Newark, New Jersey; schroers@umdnj.edu.

Chantal M. L. R. Brazeau, MD

Associate professor, Department of Family Medicine, UMDNJ–New Jersey Medical School, Newark, New Jersey.

Sue Rovi, PhD

Associate professor, Department of Family Medicine, UMDNJ–New Jersey Medical School, Newark, New Jersey.

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Reference

1Integrated Massachusetts Application for Initial Credentialing/Appointment. Available at: http://www.massmed.org/AM/Template.cfm?Section=Home6&CONTENTID=3222&TEMPLATE=/CM/ContentDisplay.cfm. Accessed February 17, 2010.

© 2010 Association of American Medical Colleges

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