Mental Health Records Access

Book Cover: Annie's Ghosts
Annie’s Ghosts

Steve Lux­en­berg writes in the Detroit Free Press about the over-the-top pro­tec­tions afford­ed to the dead in his arti­cle “Dead and gone and still pri­vate: Med­ical record laws need updat­ing.” Suf­fice it to say that med­ical, and espe­cial­ly men­tal health records are locked up far longer than is nec­es­sary. As far as I am con­cerned, peo­ple whose entire imme­di­ate fam­i­ly are dead should have any of their data made pub­lic. The only rea­son for pri­va­cy is the pro­tec­tion of liv­ing per­sons; the rest is his­to­ry, and his­to­ry should be made pub­lic, not hid­den.

As Mr. Lux­en­berg points out, we have a rad­i­cal lack of pri­va­cy in some are­nas — wit­ness Face­book — but med­ical and men­tal health records are anoth­er sto­ry. So, with a cou­ple of clicks, I can find out what your street address and phone num­ber are, but it takes a court order to find out about a per­son who died in a men­tal hos­pi­tal more than 100 years ago.

I’m going to take a look at Lux­en­berg’s book Annie’s Ghosts: A Jour­ney Into a Fam­i­ly Secret.