Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Lost in HIPAA-land

HIPAA stands for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. It's the reason you have to sign that piece of paper every time you see your doctor, or have any interaction with any health care professional.

HIPAA was a well-intentioned law, tho sometimes misinterpreted. And, in defense of the health care industry, sometimes it's a tough line to walk. For example, if a doctor calls the hospital from home for information, how do they know who is who, as it would break HIPAA regulations to give information to those not entitled to receive it, ie family members, nosy neighbors, etc. So it can at times be an annoying hurdle, especially for those who don't understand the regulations fully (myself included, at times.) However, the overinterpretations can be ridiculous at times.

I had a HIPAA run-in recently. I needed to draw some stat labs on a patient, around closing time for the office. So, as I often do, I hand-wrote on the lab slip "Please call results to 867-5309". Not really, that would be Jenny. But I put my cell number on the slip so that I would get the results, not the on-call doctor.

So that evening I get a call.

"Hi, this is the lab. I have your stat results."

Great, let me have 'em.

"Except, how do I know it's you?"

What?

"You know, the HIPAA stuff, how do I know it's really the doctor?"

Buddy, you called me.

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