What It Means

President Bush's MEDICAL PRIVACY rules, effective April 2003, will relax the ones that ex-President Clinton proposed, which would have required PATIENTS to provide written consent before doctors could give out their records. The impact: patients won't need a consent form to pick up prescriptions or see a specialist, but they also won't have the power to prevent disclosures before treatment. DOCTORS criticize Bush for removing the need for patient consent but will be freer in hospitals to discuss cases with colleagues. INSURERS, which fought for the Bush rules, can soon avoid paperwork that might dissuade patients from applying for coverage.


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