How Much is Too Much?


With privacy at a premium these days, and stories about identity theft splattered across the front pages of major dailies, a red flag automatically arises when anybody requests any type of personal information. As well it should.

I’m no exception. In fact, last week when I was at the bank, I was taken aback when the teller asked for my social security number. I told him I wanted to know why it was necessary for me to disclose that information in order to complete the transaction. I mean, didn’t the bank already have this on file? In the end he gave me a reasonable explanation, and I coughed up my social security number, but I have to admit I just felt better questioning this policy.

That’s why I was a bit dismayed when I heard reports of Princess Cruise Lines asking for a bit too much medical information from a passenger. The passenger in question used supplemental oxygen and apparently Princess Cruise Lines requested authorization to access her medical records. This was in addition to the regular “fitness to travel letter” that she was instructed to get from her doctor.

Access to medical records? I think not.

The only people I give access to those records are physicians that are actually treating me. I think it’s unreasonable for a cruise line to ask for such records.

So cruisers beware, apparently this authorization is required on the new Princess medical forms. Do NOT sign it. The cruise line has no right to this information, especially if your doctor has already submitted a fitness to travel letter.

Yes, it’s reasonable to ask for the dimensions of your wheelchair or how many oxygen tanks you plan to bring aboard, but it’s not reasonable to ask for access to your personal medical records. Read everything carefully before you sign it! And if you don’t feel comfortable signing it, then just leave it blank. In fact, print “refused to sign” in the signature space.

Remember, only you can protect your privacy.