When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson

27 July 2005

Big Brother is watching... your blood sugar. (AP, via Wired News)

Wired News: Big Brother Wants to Be Diet Cop:
Conceived after a sharp rise in diabetes deaths over the past 20 years, [a proposed] plan would require medical labs to report to [New York City health bureaucrats] the results of a certain type of test that indicates how well individual patients are controlling their diabetes.

'There will be some people who will say, 'What business of the government is it to know that my diabetes is not in control?'' said Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, the city's health commissioner.
Dr. Frieden, pleased to meet you.

I am one of those people, and I am saying just exactly that.

I am a Type 2 diabetic--whose diabetes is well controlled, incidentally, without your unasked-for paternalistic assistance and oversight--and let me warmly assure you, it is NONE OF YOUR GODDAMNED BUSINESS what my blood glucose or hemoglobin A1C levels are.

Nobody working for the City of New York is paying my medical or pharmacy bills, or my laboratory fees; my private insurance company, and I, happen to be paying through the nose for all that. You're not paying my rent, my utilities, or putting food on my table, either.


You are not my spouse, parent, significant other, friend, or even acquaintance, and you're sure as hell not my doctor.

And if you feel entitled to access my private medical records without my consent (a key feature of this proposed program) I am going to do everything in my power to disabuse you of that notion as rapidly, thoroughly, and completely as possible.

I am going to explain to you, Dr. Freiden, what the mandate of a government public health agency is. I am going to use some fairly big words, but since you went to medical school, I hope you will understand them:
  • You're there to deal with infectious diseases, like tuberculosis, syphilis and AIDS, that can be spread between members of the population.

  • You're also there to deal with cases of environmental toxicity, such as lead poisoning in children. Or you study the long-term effects of all the airborne shit we Manhattanites breathed in when the towers came down on 9/11, or other issues that can be considered "mass exposure" toxic incidents.

  • If you became very ambitious, you might try to do something meaningful about, oh, say, the pandemic use of highly dangerous illegal drugs, like crystal meth, in your jurisdiction.
And that's about it.

Highly contagious infectious disease? Okay, there's a case in which the interests of the public at large can conceivably be said to outweigh the individual's right to privacy.

But if you think you're going to nose around in my medical records, without my consent, in order to satisfy your misguided do-gooder impulses and whims, you've got another think coming. (A civil rights lawsuit targeting the Board of Health of the City of New York, and you, both in your capacity as health commissioner and as an individual, sounds like a good idea to me.)

Incredibly, it is the official position of the American Diabetes Association that this unconscionable and non-consensual intrusion into the private lives and medical records of diabetics is a good idea.

According to the article, the proposal isn't likely to come up for a vote before September.

I'll be taking the issue up with the ADA, with the Health Department, and with my elected officials, in the morning.

1 comment:

Ellecram said...

Any news on this diabetes monitoring initiative?

Marcelle from Pittsburgh