HIPAA: So you like your privacy eh?

As a patient, me too. But I wish I could dial it in a bit better, maybe with some refined iPhone sliders, or levers on a graphic equalizer.

Do you mind if the patient on the other side of the curtain hears our conversation?

Depends. No problem for most things, except probably bowel or genital stuff. I’d love it if they would help me get some water, or call for help if I roll off the bed.

Do you care if we take a photo?

Well, if its one of me hanging off the gurney in a drunken stupor, I’d prefer no. But if you want to send a photo of my lacerated tendon to an orthopedist, please do!

Is it ok if we send your birthday, license, ss#, fb username/password, telephone number, and mother’s maiden name to another hospital to get your records?

Absolutely not ok!… unless I’m toes up, head injured, tied to a backboard in Iceland. Here are all my credit cards too if you think that’ll help.

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 is a big flat hammer with excellent intensions. Like EMTALA, however, it too has its side effects. After a couple weeks in Haiti following the 2010 earthquake I really started to wonder how much we benefit from our quest for absolute privacy. Exposing preexisting conditions to employers or insurers was a bigger concern before the ACA. Less so now. For infectious disease containment, privacy is a sure winner. Other medical problems, I’m not so certain, as the extreme end of privacy is isolation.

In Haiti, I watched patients in femur fracture and amputee wards become families. As I rounded, family members helped other patients with their dressing changes and rehab. Actually, there was more laughter than I’ve experienced among patients in any American Hospital.

That’s all beside the point, however. This is yet another blatant argument for house calls. For your basic acute medical problems, rather than risk landing a thin curtain away from Typhoid Mary, Large Marge, or your neighbor, give Pre-R a try and set your privacy dials at home with precision!

“There’s such an issue of privacy in health care and yet they let all the patients walk around with their derrières sticking out.”

Read this article by National Post.

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