Tuesday, October 24, 2006
Bet you thought HIPAA protected you
…Theo Francis (WSJ, Oct 21-22, 2006) writes that when you sign those medical records forms on the dreaded clipboard, you probably have no idea what you are getting or agreeing to.
…HA was surprised. He was right!
…Those forms, he says, do not protect your privacy, you silly puppy.
…Instead the forms outline the many ways the doctor CAN give out your info.
…You don’t have to sign, although some doctors may pitch a hiss or fire you if you don’t.
…You can ask where your info has gone since April 2003—that is your right (only some info has to be given to you). And you can view and even change your own medical files.
…But doctors also can give out this info to thousands of places without your consent or even without telling you.
…These would be things that fall under the vague headings of relating to treatment, payment or health care operations. Sound familiar?
….First your symptoms and diagnosis can be freely shared with the pharmacy and with any other doctor you later contact. Along with it can go your whole medical history.
…Your health insurer gets an earful. If you go to collections, so does the bill collector.
…STDs and some communicable diseases are reported to government agencies.
…A marketer may get your name and some details for a patient satisfaction survey.
…A friend of HA’s walked out of the doctor’s office with a breast cancer diagnosis and magically the American Cancer Society called her the next day.
…A health plan could advertise new programs to you.
…Everyone and their dog can see your info—that’s how one expert put it.
…You can ask for additional restrictions, but these will go overboard in a hot second in an emergency.
…One lawyer crossed out the boilerplate and added that nothing could be shared without asking her. Several docs and hospitals said that was “suspicious.” She was afraid she would be labeled difficult.
…People should not have to worry about what they tell the doctor, one expert said.
…Well, they should.
…HA saw a whole one-hour program where Michael Jackson’s plastic surgeon’s partner spilled all about Mike’s nose.
…That’s when she realized the clipboard was a farce.
…HA also does not give her SS number on the chart. Why do they even ask for it? MYOB!
…Some bums also steal medical identities, by the way, having expensive surgery on your nickel and impacting your credit report.
…Then the details—which have nothing to do with you—enter your medical record.