CS 550 Medical Informatics: Introduction to Issues and Policy
Spring 2002 Syllabus
Brian M. O'Connell
Departments of Computer Science & Philosophy
Maria Sanford Room 205
This syllabus is subject to change. Please check in here often.
Last Update: 04/16/02

Course Description:
Computing is ubiquitous within the medical environment. This course will examine the dynamics of biomedical computing
from legal, ethical and social perspectives. Since these considerations cannot be undertaken without a solid knowledge
of the technologies and techniques at issue, the course will also provide the student with a grounding in the fundamentals of
scientific and professional practices, including the evolution and implementation of architectures & networks, the design
and theory of record-keeping systems, therapeutic devices, clinical decision-making techniques, the digital laboratory
and integrated health management systems.

Legal and ethical topics will include: privacy & confidentiality, risk & liability, professional responsibility, legislative
mandates and processes, computational genomics, intellectual property and economic issues.

Classes will be conducted in seminar format. Opportunities will be afforded to visit facilities involved in these areas
and to communicate with professionals working within the field. The successful completion of the class will require
the preparation of an original research paper. A portion of the course will be devoted to individual advising and
assistance in research. Students will be exposed to contemporary online and library-based information resources.
Tours of the UCONN Health Center and Law School libraries will be offered and use of these facilities will be

This course is appropriate for students in the computing, legal, bio-engineering and managerial disciplines as well as
for professionals who are involved in clinical or administrative aspects of computing within health care or research
environments. A knowledge of programming, network architecture and basic principles of A.I. are helpful, but not
absolutely required. Students without a computing background  may be required to consult additional, introductory
technical readings.

Course Texts:
1.  Online Articles
2.  Class Handouts and Slides
3.  Reserve Materials located in Computer Science Office

Course Evaluation:
1.  Section Analysis Summaries [30%]
2.  Paper Preparation Research Assignments [20%]
3.  Course Research Paper [40%]
4.  Class Participation (including attendance) [10%]

Week One:     Introduction
Overview: Inter-disciplinary and Professional Issues and Evolution
Library facilities & Logistics
Online Resources
Grading and Class Policies
Pick up syllabus & material

Weeks Two - Three:     Introduction to Medical Networks
Introduction to Medical Network Design & Development
Emergence of Medical Informatics as a Discipline
Predominant Architectures and Practices

Warner, Medical Informatics: A Real Discipline?, JAMIA, 2: 207-214 (1995)

Weeks Three-Five:     Privacy I - Theory & Environments
Professional Confidentiality
Medical-Legal Privacy Overview
The Patient Medical Record
Conventional Privacy Legislation

McLean, Chapter 4: Types of Privacy in McLean: Privacy and Its Invasion, pp. 47-60
Gellman, Prescribing Privacy: The Uncertain Role of the Physician in the Protection of Patient Privacy (1984), pp. 8-11
Hippocratic Oath

Warren & Brandeis, The Right to Privacy
Olmstead v. United States 277 U.S. 438 (1928)
HEW Code of Fair Information Practices (1973)
Privacy Act of 1974 (Public Law: 93-5795; USC 552a: 88 Stat. 1896)
FOIA (5 U.S.C. 552) section on non-disclosable data

** Paper Topic Due in Class or by Email by 2/24**

Week Six-Seven:     Privacy II - Governmental Policies, Evolution & Conflicts
Seminal Medical Privacy Jurisprudence
The Federal Regulatory Process
State Regulatory Process
Universal Identification Numbers

Starr, Health & the Right to Privacy, 25 Am. J. L. and Med. 193 (1999)

Epic Health Confidentiality Bibliography
Whalen v. Roe 429 U.S. 589 (1977)

General Accounting Office "Medical Records Privacy (February 25, 1999) (.pdf file) [Tentative]
Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), Pub. L. 104191(.pdf file)
HHS Regulations (1999)
Uniform Health Care Information Act (overview / .pdf file)
HHS White Paper on Universal Identifier

Week Eight:    UCONN Health Center Library
Online Medical Research
Directions to UCONN Health Center Library in Farmington
UCONN Health Center Library Web Site

Week Nine:    Universal ID's and Smart Cards

Smart Cards: Scientific American 274, no. 8 (August 1996): 40-45
Szolovits & Kohane: Against Simple Universal Health-Care Identifiers (pdf file)
EPIC White Paper on Unique Health Identifier

Week Eleven:    Internet Issues
User-Critical Site Design
Electronic Mail
Best and Worst Practices

Murphy, Patient-centered E-mail: Developing the Right Policies (2000)

Spielberg, Online Without a Net: Physician-Patient Communication, 25 Am. J. L. and Med. (2000)
Kane, et al., Guidelines for the Clinical Use of Electronic Mail, JAMIA,  5: 104-111 (1998)
** Paper's  "Main Sources" due in class or by email by 4/01**

Week Twelve:     Clinical Decision-Making & Risks
Contemporary Decision-Making Structures, Protocols, Algorithms and Theories
Expert Systems in Medicine

Smith, Limits of Correctness in Computers, Report CSLI-85-36, Center for the Study of Language and Information,
Stanford University, California, October 1985
Snapper, Responsibility for Computer-Based Decisions
Miller & Goodman, Ethical Challenges in Use of Decision-Support Software

Week Thirteen:     Biomedical Engineering & Risks

Leveson & Turner, An Investigation of the THERAC-25 Accidents, IEEE Computer 26(7) (1993)
Snapper, Responsibility for Computer-Based Decisions in Health Care
Miller & Goodman, Ethical Challenges in the Use of Decision-Support Software in Clinical Practice

** Paper Outline Due in Class **

Weeks Thirteen-Fifteen:     Genomics I - Theory & Practice
Elementary Scientific Background
Computational and Statistical Genomics
Current Protocols and Applications
Genomic Software & Technologies
Genome Database Management

Salon - Decoding the Genome
Scientific American - Bioinformatics Gold Rush

Week Sixteen:     Genomics II - Legal & Social
Privacy Implications
Genomics and Democracy
Biology, Identity and Diversity
Regulatory Methods and Institutions
International Considerations

Boyle Chapter - Reserve

Week Seventeen:     Presentations

All papers are due in class tonight.

updated: 04.16.02