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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*


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.