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Access denied! Na na na NA na!

So, a week ago, I had my first MRI. I operated under the assumption that the hospital's outpatient MRI staff would forward the results to my doctor, and that my doctor would call me to tell me if there was anything wrong. But it's been a week, so I got curious.

One of the advantages (minor, I'll grant you) of getting an MRI where I work is that I know how to look me up in the system. Golly, there's my medical record! And wouldja look? I had an MRI last week. Let's see if the results are posted! Gosh, they are! Hey, I have a meniscal tear in my left knee, just like my orthopedist thought it could be! Hmm...

With that knowledge in hand (literally, because I printed it), I calld my orthopod's office. I took the lesser of the evil electronic choices in their IVR system and got an operator. I explained that I'd seen the doctor last week, gotten an MRI, and was wondering if the doctor had the results. The conversation went something like this:

"You have to make an appointment."
"I do?"
"The doctor will need to discuss the results with you. You need an appointment."
*mental shrug* "Okay, give my call to the people who make appointments."

I expect this is part of this office's cunning plan to extract as much money out of my insurance company as possible. After all, if they don't see me, they can't charge for a visit. It's more cost effective for them to be able to get $ from my coverage than to simply say, "Yeah, we've seen the report. You need surgery. We recommend Doctor So-and-So...he's a good surgeon." 'cuz that's what this visit is going to be. Remember, I had the results in hand. I have no proof that they do...it could be that the smartest thing to do (in case they don't have the results) is to bring them with me so I can prevent one appointment from turning into two.

Guess I won't be trying out for professional sports any time soon. Unless, of course, it's professional eating. *grin*


( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 17th, 2005 01:27 am (UTC)
Wait a minute. Are you saying that anyone working at my doctor's hospital and affiliated network can pull up my records without my permission?
Aug. 17th, 2005 02:37 am (UTC)
Many people still assume that we live in a world where private data about you is both private and available to you on demand; it is, alas, neither.
Aug. 17th, 2005 02:43 am (UTC)
Sad, but true.

In theory, medical professionals at a hospital have a valid reason to look at an individual's records at any time and don't need permission. We trust those professionals to exercise their judgement in using that access.

In a well designed system, an administrator can easily track who accessed what and when they accessed it.
Aug. 17th, 2005 09:34 am (UTC)
I did not violate HIPAA, in this instance. They're my records, I can look at them and discuss them.

I have a couple of stories about how I've been less than professional with other people's records. There is no way I can relate them here safely, except to say that the people whose records I referenced never came to any harm as a result of my doing so.

I can say that the most recent thing I've done regarding someone else's records is when the person in question is someone I know and I'm trying to see where they are physically located so that I can visit them. Judaism puts value on visiting the sick; that's what I've done, simply as a more expedient thing to do than calling the hospital operator and taking up two people's time rather than one.

In a well designed system, an administrator can easily track who accessed what and when they accessed it.

I'll bet you that it's possible to do what you're discussing with my hospital informatics system. Easy and useful, probably not. I don't think that a high value was placed on that when considering which informatics system to use. "Well designed" usually means the most commonly used user interface. Less value is placed on things that don't help the product sell as well.
Aug. 17th, 2005 02:43 am (UTC)
Not legally, no.

Not and use that information, no.
Aug. 17th, 2005 09:35 am (UTC)
That's what HIPAA is for...but it doesn't apply in this case.
Aug. 17th, 2005 03:56 pm (UTC)
Aug. 17th, 2005 02:37 am (UTC)
Professional Eating? I think that tiny woman from Virginia could still kick your butt at the Hot Dog Eating Contest.

Or did you mean food critic? :)
Aug. 17th, 2005 09:21 am (UTC)
If I change professions, I need to be making twice what I'm making now. Karen won't give her permission otherwise. Recommendations?
(Deleted comment)
Aug. 17th, 2005 03:57 pm (UTC)
That's simply not true.
Aug. 17th, 2005 09:25 am (UTC)
Bill Clinton.


Oh, I didn't believe that it was uncommon. I even don't have a problem with there being a reason for it, and I'm happier if it's a legitimate reason. Would it have been so hard for them to be able to explain what that reason was? I wasn't even given a chance to get my question ("Did you get my MRI record?") answered.
Aug. 17th, 2005 11:55 pm (UTC)

Interesting. With my GP, I can not only find out if they got my results, in most cases he has already written a post-it note about it that I can get read out to me over the phone; at least when it's simple like "everything was normal on the blood test" (sometimes the note just says "you have to come in to discuss this", though).

(Even though my current GP is male - and I've been going to him for about a decade now - I think I've actually been to more female GPs than male.)
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )

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