Friday, March 16, 2007

Privacy Issues

Medical blogs are becoming more, shall we say risqué, as time goes on. A Detroit Free Press article cites blogs by doctors violating patients' privacy. I don't have much sympathy for the outcome in any case that does so without the permission of the individual. In most cases in this blog, the events are so generalized that the patients are unidentifiable, except when the actual patient is posting. Of course in such a large population, we could be talking about your next-door neighbor, and not know it. With 25,000 people, it's a totally different scenario.

I've pulled a few, but generally comments are sticking to HIPAA guidelines. A couple of the ones I pulled were by the patients, but what I felt might have been regretted later. Some were employee/patients which might have gotten them in trouble, and one was a serious breach, which I couldn't condone.

I did publish one employee/patient issue, which was only identifiable through her medical treatment, but the last I heard, she was still employed. That might have changed...but she gave permission. Proving the reason for discharge in a right-to-work state is almost impossible, since they can discharge you for the color of your socks...or pure convenience, as has been demonstrated as of late....

I have had several emails that have given me backgrounds--most have been by the parents. Children, it seems, are common victims. They ask me not to publish the full story, but include it for context. The little ones are totally dependent on what is available--and who feels responsible for their pain, if the wait is long, the quality of care--if poor, and the outcome. As a parent, you have the feeling of responsibility for illness/injury, as well as everything that goes on during the treatment process. You want the best--from caring or guilt (deserved or not)--and this certainly isn't.

What it boils down to is the public only sees the tip of the iceberg, even here. Staff becomes used to giving sub-standard care, and hardened to suffering--you have to. But the degree or level is changing, and not for the better. Standard of care is dynamic, why not standard of suffering, or indifference?

This blog is the only outlet for many of the staff, and it does have an effect: Having someone watching administration has changed several public policies...whether it has an actual impact on conditions...only time will tell....


Anonymous said...

Are you on EST today?
I guess the burger brunch would be an example of a change, and the "Dickie Mail" another.

But aren't those just window dressings?

Fully staffing the ER would be one big one, and counting from the time the patient actually checks in for waiting time would be alot more honest.

Anonymous said...

Privacy rights need to get more press, especially when it comes to health issues. I just read a book Privacy Lost by David H. Holtzman, and one of the anecdotes was a story about a guy who couldn't get a renewal for his health coverage because 30 years earlier he had told a doctor that he had smoked marijuana. The information found its way into a database system and then... yeah, so it's troubling stuff. I've also been checking out Holtzman's privacy blog GlobalPOV, since. if you're into these privacy issues you should check it out.