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.
WHO WILL FOLLOW THIS NOTICE
- Any health care professional authorized to enter information into your medical chart.
- That seems to make sense. Well, alright.
- 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.
- Volunteers, really? Why?
- 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].
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:
HOW WE MAY USE AND DISCLOSE MEDICAL INFORMATION ABOUT YOU
(There is some interesting stuff in this part that I did not know about. Privacy, really? Wait until you hear!)
- For Treatment -- logical. Wouldn't you agree and hope so!
- For Payment -- OK, that is probably fair more or less.
- 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.
- Appointment Reminders -- This probably works to my benefit.
- 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?
- 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.
- Individuals Involved in Your Care and Payment for Your Care -- of course.
- 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?
- 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?
- 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.
- 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.