Thursday, February 13, 2014


Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. Every medical provider in the United States has been required to comply with (what is known in the business as) HIPAA regs since the late 90s. I know this because, in another life, I was the Human Rights Officer at a mental health clinic, and wow, were we sticklers for HIPAA regs. We had to be. We were also sticklers for human rights in medical care ~ which I am learning, not everyone is. This has been a struggle for the hospital I go to for as long as I've been going there. But, until very recently, it's been worth it to me to continue getting my medical care there. Then there was this past week...

Monday, I had follow-up procedures on my surgery sites from my heart surgery. Ultrasounds to make sure the veins and arteries have healed well. (Note ~ they have and all is well) I am sitting in the waiting area and hear "Miz (My First Name ~ let's say Pobble)?" So I go. The young woman and I chat. I recognize her as a tech I have had to ask to cover someone else's chart in the past (see? HIPAA struggles) but don't tease her about it, because that's really awkward, and she doesn't recognize me. We chat. She says we're going to do my EKG sitting up on the table. ... Okay, I'm not scheduled for an EKG, but it's my heart guy's office, so maybe it's routine. 

I take off my shirt, someone else comes in, she does the EKG while the original young woman is doing paperwork. First young woman looks at my birthday and is surprised to see '69 because they expected younger. I shrug "Well, 44..."

And with that, they are off. They are raving at how good I look for my age. Raving. That they expected someone with grey hair and a little nanny sweater.  And they rave some more... Okay. Not sure how old they think someone born in '69 looks, but, hell, I'll take it. EKG is good and the second woman leaves. 

The first woman says "If I call out your daily meds, will you be able to tell me if they're right or not?" ... Okay. And she says "baby aspirin daily." Nope. Not me. And I look down on my EKG report to see the name Pobbel Bosnian. Not Pobble Boston. First name pronounced the same way. Completely different last name. Completely different person. She is 69; I was born in '69. She was born in '44; I am 44. The tech had never once asked me anything to confirm I was the patient she thought I was.

I had to point this out to her.

At what point, do you realize that perhaps you don't have the right patient? When the 44 year old in front of you maybe isn't 69? No matter how "good she looks for her age?" When do you, just maybe, ask the patient to give you some information, just in case?

Here's the real kicker ~ on my way out of the office, I snapped a picture of the sign, hanging on the wall:

Please! Inconvenience me! I'm begging you.

I know this much: Pobbel Bosnian's most recent EKG is a lot better than her previous ones have been.

Those are Pobble Thoughts. That and a buck fifty will get you coffee.