Thursday, January 15, 2009

HIPAA and me

So there is this law, HIPAA, that says that we medical folk can't divulge patient's medical information without a good reason. We also can't act on it for any reason other than to treat or aid the treatment of the patient. The rules are so strict that if I saw my mother's name on the surgery schedule, I couldn't go and see her after surgery unless I also got the information from a non-hospital source. HIPAA can cause some problems for bloggers, as the best stories involve patient information. I feel that on this blog I am abiding by these rules in the following ways.

I, of course, never use patient names. I don't use my name or the name of my hospital. I don't even explicitly name the city where my hospital is located, although it probably isn't difficult to figure out. However given my other interests, as seen on my other blogs, anyone who knows me would recognize me here. I am the only scrub in my town, who works the weekend shift, with my set of interests. I have a limited set of patients, so it theoretically may be possible to figure out which patient I am talking about. I doubt anyone will actually go to the trouble to figure out which town I work in, then who I am, and therefore which hospital I work at, and then connect my patients with a blog post. It could be done, but only by someone who has access to my hospital's records, and who knows me. Still I protect myself further by lying. When I say "this weekend", I mean, "sometime in the last 19 years". I can and will change the nature of a patient's injuries, disease or treatment in ways that don't change the core of the story. If I can, I might even change the patient's gender. In other words, this isn't the patient you're looking for. Go away.

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