Patient Data for Sale in Texas

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Description: According to a recent investigative report by The Austin Bulldog, the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS), which is required by law to collect detailed hospital-patient data from nearly every hospital in the state, has sold or given away hospital patients' data since 1999. Those files contain more than 200 data fields, which reveal patients' insurance coverage or lack of, procedures performed, intimate details, such as "abortion performed due to rape" or a drug- or alcohol-related diagnosis. According to Chris Van Deusen, assistant DSHS press officer, between January 2009 and July 2010, buyers paid to download 916 quarter-years of the hospital-patient public use data files years 2004 to 2009.
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