Monday, June 10, 2013

House Bill 2195

Oregon House Bill 2195, which reads "Provides that physician or health care provider may at any time report to Department of Transportation that person's cognitive or functional impairment affects person's ability to safely operate motor vehicle, without regard to whether report is required by department." passed both the house and the senate in April, and was signed into law in mid May.  This bill, though somewhat indirectly linked to topics covered in this class, is still relevant to discussions around transportation policy and privacy.  
On the one hand, this bill provides an increase in road safety, something that's hard to argue against.  On the other, it removes an entire layer of doctor/patient confidentiality in a way that could seriously alter the way a person is required to live.  This alteration could lead to safer roads for everyone, but entirely violates the code of privacy that patients have previously relied on for protection.  
Increasing road safety is undeniable important, for other drives, bicyclists, pedestrians, and even the patient-drivers themselves, but privacy violation is a slippery slope, even for the Transportation Department.  This bill simply allows doctors to notify the Transportation Department and protects them from legal recourse, but this bill could also be used as a stepping stone in the future for laws that require the disclosure of confidential patient information.

Overall, it seems like a well-intentioned, but potentially harmful piece of legislation.  It puts lawmakers in a position that offers a great deal of power, in a nation with shrinking privacy rights.  Conversely, it puts drivers on safer roads.  Something of a conundrum...

Thanks to CJ Doxsee and Michael Armstrong for editing.


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