When I signed up to be a hospital volunteer several years ago, one of the first things I was taught was the HIPAA law – i.e. the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, which, among other things, mandates that a patient’s identity and medical information be kept confidential.
I always took the law seriously, especially when I volunteered in L.A. at Cedar’s Sinai where there were so many celebrity patients. The tabloids used to try to bribe the volunteers for info about the stars and there would have been a huge fine and a jail sentence if we’d tipped them off.
As a patient I assumed my identity and medical information would be kept confidential too. Wrong!
I was at the doctor the other day. I was sitting in the waiting room, reading cheesy magazines until I was called for my appointment. Suddenly I heard, as if through a megaphone: “JANE HELLER!”
I looked up and there was a nurse standing there with a clipboard. I wanted to strangle her and her vocal chords.
But yelling out a patient’s full name in front of a roomful of other people is only part of the problem. How about when you go to check in at a doctor’s office, clinic or hospital. Have you ever had them do this?
You to receptionist: “Hi, I’m here for my 2:30 appointment.”
Receptionist: “YOUR NAME?”
You: “Jane Heller.”
Receptionist: “ARE YOU STILL AT 444 ELM STREET?”
Receptionist: “AND IS YOUR PHONE NUMBER 555-5555?”
Receptionist: “AND ARE YOU HERE FOR A MAMMOGRAM?”
You: “Yeah, and have you ever thought of keeping your damn voice down?”
Why bother having a HIPAA law if receptionists and nurses end up blabbing your personal information to anyone with ears?
Makes me mad.