Saturday, January 22, 2011

This happens all too often

The stories of heroics and bravery on the day of the Tucson shootings, which killed six and injured 13, will continue to amaze me. Everyday people do extraordinary things when called to act.

Sadly, it doesn't surprise me that a few people did something they were not supposed to do following the shootings. The hospital that treated the wounded had to fire several employees for accessing the shooting victims' medical records. CNN reported on this on Jan. 12.

Three clinical support staff members and a contracted nurse at University Medical Center in Tucson have been fired "for inappropriately accessing confidential medical records," a spokeswoman for the hospital said Wednesday (Jan. 12) in the CNN.com article.

Just because a person works at a hospital, does not give him the right to access your information. Hospitals take this seriously and that's why three staffers and a contracted nurse lost their positions at the University Medical Center in Tucson.

When my husband and I updated our wills recently, we also created an authorization for release of protected information. In this document, we each outlined the people we wanted to have access to our medical records protected until the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act or HIPAA.

It may sound like a silly document, but a lot of strange — although well intentioned folks — will appear during a medical crisis. Do you really want your Aunt Betty's cousin Silda to be talking to the doctor about your medical condition? It can happen. It can be as easy as Silda being in the room at the same time the doctor arrives to give you an examine.

Most friends and family will give you your space. The release form is just a way for you to make sure your medical information is in the right hands.

Hospitals and medical offices all have procedures in place to protect your medical information. Those procedures obviously were not followed at the Tucson hospital and people lost their jobs.

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