Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Notice of Privacy Practices - A Satirical Look

Privacy. An interesting concept. I have curtains on my bathroom window for privacy. Medical information privacy could be an oxymoron.

I recently was handed an eleven page document titled Notice of Privacy Practices. This occurred when I checked in at my doctor appointment. It has happened before. However, this particular time I took time to read it. I found irony and some form of humor in my reading. I will highlight a few things in this post.

  1.  Any health care professional authorized to enter information into your medical chart. 
    • That seems to make sense. Well, alright.
  1. All departments and offices of [insert physician group here].
    • This is a big, big organization. Now it is getting a little sketchy -- the "privacy" part.
  2. Any member of a volunteer group we allow to help you while you are at [insert physician group here].
    • Volunteers, really? Why?
  3. All employees, staff, and other personnel.
    • OK, at this point, I'm thinking save ink and space and just say "Everyone" or "All" people who are connected to or have ever even driven by [insert physician group here].
There's more. But first let me just say...I have to trust my personal medical information that is private to a flock of strangers that I may or may not trust? That's pushing it, knowing what we all know about human nature.

It continues on..."We are required by law to: make sure that medical information that identifies you is kept private." Ah. Too late, really. It seems more people can have privilege to my privacy than are on my annual Christmas letter list.

And now on to my favorite part:
(There is some interesting stuff in this part that I did not know about. Privacy, really? Wait until you hear!)
  1. For Treatment -- logical. Wouldn't you agree and hope so!
  2. For Payment -- OK, that is probably fair more or less.
  3. For Health Care Operations -- Maybe your thinking operations as in surgery. Wrong. Operations as in the office. Hmmm. If you aren't involved in treatment or billing the insurance company or me, what do you need with my "private" information? Statistics. Oh, sure. It goes on to say in this part, "We may also disclose information to doctors, nurses, technicians, medical students and other personnel for learning and review purposes." Shouldn't I get a stipend? I could bill them.
  4. Appointment Reminders -- This probably works to my benefit.
  5. Treatment Alternatives -- OK. To tell me about treatment alternative, but who is the medical information disclosed to? Me? I have to be included in my own medical privacy? What am I missing?
  6. Health-Related Products and Services -- to tell me about them. OK. So who is the info disclosed to? Not me, right? I already know my medically private issues? So who? Vendors? Ewe.
  7. Individuals Involved in Your Care and Payment for Your Care -- of course.
  8. Research -- oh, certainly. For the common good. Medical costs should be cheaper if you agree to help out with research using your private medical information. Wouldn't you agree?
  9. As Required by Law -- so they are required to keep it private by law unless the law requires them to share? That is amusing. What is the point of privacy?
  10. To Avert a Serious Threat to Health or Safety -- I am all in favor of this one. Especially for other people's medical information that might cause ME problems.
  11. Special Situations: This is where it gets good. My two favorite exceptions to privacy are in this list. Can you guess? Which are yours?
  •  Organ & Tissue Donation - this is a good idea.
  • Military & Veterans - I'm not a member of the military, so this doesn't apply.
  • Worker's Compensation - This may help prevent corruption and fraud and get benefits to deserving people.
  • Public Health Risks - there is wisdom in this.
  • Health Oversight Activities (agencies) - sure, why not?
  • Lawsuits and Disputes - welcome to our world.
  • Law Enforcement - It's all connected.
  • Coroners, Medical Examiners and Funeral Directors - why would I care then? 
  • National Security and Intelligence Agencies - Yikes! This is Big Brother watching, if you ask me. If I ever requested a list of who my info was released to and saw one of these agencies on my list, what would I think?
  • Protective Services for the President and Others - Wow! I suppose it is important for the President's peeps to check me out to keep him safe.
So there you go! The not-private-at-all privacy practices. Worth the read. I had no idea. By the end of all these permissions to share, I don't feel my medical information is private at all. We live in complicated times. Stay healthy! Bye for now. I'm going on my walk.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Advent Thoughts

I love Christmas. I know. I know. Many don't share that joy. Especially in mid-October. That's OK. We can live in peace.

It takes everything I have to wait until November 1 to begin listening to Christmas music. I wait on behalf of those I live with who do not feel the urgency I feel to jump in to the beauty of the season, beginning with wonderful music. So I listen discreetly and with joy until December actually begins.

One month, the month of December, is just not enough time to engage in what I love about Christmas. I love the music, the lights, the quiet I find amidst the hustle and hysteria, the hope promised of God on earth and His return.

What I don't engage in so much is gift giving. The financial tension that has caused in years past and the frustration caused by not knowing what to get for someone sucked the life out of me. Shopping in frenzied crowds and surviving the fight with parking space sharks is deadening.

The deep reward of spending gift money on causes gives me joy. That is why I post this video today.


Advent is a magical season for me. Anticipation is powerful. It is never to early to remember a time of anticipation of Good News. These words renew that focus.