Buddy Dyer, a government worker in Orlando, stated, at approximately 12:30 PM on Sunday, June 12, 2016, soon after the mass shootings in Orlando, that the most important thing right now is to waive the HIPAA laws so the physicians taking care of 53 injured patients can communicate with their distraught family members.

HIPAA, which stands for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, is only one of dozens of shackles, obstacles, and barriers, that Federal government workers have imposed on patients and their physicians. Contrary to popular perception, HIPAA does nothing to actually safeguard your privacy from the most dangerous entity that might invade it, namely the government. If you are on Medicare or Medicaid, you have no privacy from the eyes of government. Plus, the rules of the “alternative payment methodology” in MACRA (the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015) expand government access to records of ALL patients of a Medicare physician.

Now let us imagine the position of the physicians and nurses taking care of the people horrifically shot in this attack. All of a sudden, they are called upon to use every bit of their knowledge and skill, all their physical abilities and stamina, and all their emotional equilibrium, to do all they can to save the lives, limbs, and abilities of 53 seriously injured patients.

Those who have not been there, experiencing the horror embodied in the injuries of people who have been attacked in an attempt to murder them, can hardly imagine what it is like. It is a terrible emotional trauma, one which physicians and nurses must bear without allowing it to affect the critical decisions and actions they must take, often in minutes, or even seconds.

Meanwhile, they are aware of the heartbreaking uncertainty of the people trying to find out whether their family members are alive or dead, or how badly they are injured.

Likewise they are aware of rules like the following from HIPAA: “Accessing protected health information without authorization and the disclosure of this information to a third party carries a jail term of up to 10 years.” This is what could happen to a physician or nurse who spoke to a family member about one of their relatives critically injured in the hospital. They are not allowed even to say the patient is in the hospital. Also, there is an additional problem for the physician; if he discloses any information, it will be the end of his career, and you will lose a physician who might be needed someday to save your life.

It used to be much easier to protect patients’ privacy, while still being able to communicate with family, as well as other members of the team trying to save the patient. But government workers, with the clubs and chains of the voluminous laws imposed on others, whose work they understand very poorly, have used coercive methods to force electronic medical records (everything is supposed to be “interoperable!”) upon us. That way, government and insurance bureaucrats, prosecutors, hackers and blackmailers can access what should be private medical records from millions of patients at once, while family members in time of crisis are kept in the dark.

By Dr. Tamzin Rosenwasser, who earned her MD from Washington University in St. Louis after putting herself through medical school, is board certified in Internal Medicine and Dermatology, and and served as President of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) in 2007 and 2008. Dr. Rosenwasser is currently writing a book on medical practice, serves as the chair of the Research Advisory Committee of the Newfoundland Club of America, and believes that her dogs have better access to medical care and more medical privacy than she has, and her veterinarians are paid more than physicians in the United States for exactly the same types of surgery.