I'm not sure how to respond to all of this. The origianl privacy rules were rather onerous in many ways, and if taken literally, would have altered the practice of medicine in many ways.
Nonethelss, privacy is imporatnt, and there are many ways that patient privacy is compromised in the name of convenience, marketing, research or simple careleness.
On the topic of privacy … I often read the Diary from a week in practice published every month in American Family Physician. It's often instructive .. and our medical students find it an ejoyable snapshot of the "real life" of a family physician. I preferred the writing of Walt Larimore to the current authors. In these short notes about their patient encounters, we see the humanity of physicians as many people may not traditionally encounter.
Last week, as I was just finishing a visit with a patient, she reflected to me how she was so appreciative of the way that I treated her "like a real human." Somehow patients have come to expect the "meet-em, treat 'em and street 'em" interactions. Too bad that patients are so pleased and surprised when we treat them with respect. This is the bare minimum of good care. As Joe Scherger says: Your patients don't care how much you know until they know how much you care."