HIPAA

The Basics:
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act is a group of legislation designed to make it easier to share your health information between providers, i.e. insurance companies, health professionals, while securing that information. It also has provisions regarding insurance coverage, pre-existing conditions and quite a bit more. It is also the genesis for a whole new industry of consultants and companies focused on implementation of its regulations.

How it applies here:
While I couldn’t seem to find anything that prohibits medical blogging, within the framework of HIPAA, certain guides need to be followed. Like anywhere, confidentiality of a person’s personal health information is to be guarded at all costs. This makes it difficult, especially for newer clinicians or those without a flair for fiction, to accurately present their topics without disclosing too much about the patient.

The Bottom Line:
Names, dates, locations, genders etc. are all modified to ensure patient confidentiality. It is not my goal here to point fingers, talk about people behind their backs, snicker and generally speak ill of those who are ailing, it is a chance for education and a glimpse into the life of a floor nurse in a busy metropolitan hospital. I am trying my best to sanitize each and every account to ensure patient confidentiality, to eliminate things where the reader may say, “I know who he is talking about.” With the exception of diagnoses, any relation to persons real or imagined has been identified and eliminated. This is fiction, flavored with fact. The ideas and stories are real, the people are not. The patients are an amalgam of patients done well enough that even their family members would not know it was them.

Thank you for your discretion and ability to understand this.

Addendum – July 11, 2007
With the recent furor over medical bloggers and HIPAA, privacy and all of that, let me add a couple of things.
1. “The other night” means just that. Could be last night, a week ago, a year ago. I have a very long view of time and use that as a way to identify that it happened. Just not when.
2. I try not to identify gender, but when I do, it is usually wrong. Granted that gives me 50/50, but hopefully it takes away further ID.
3. Age. There’s old, older and pre-historic. No dates or ages associated…infer as you will.
4. Finally, I know that it is pretty easy to track people down via the interwebs, so my anonymity isn’t iron-clad. I’m OK with that. Hopefully you can respect that.

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