Under knife lame by comparison

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 6, 2013

Shortly after midnight each night, someone at the Covington County Jail faxes a report to the newspaper that shows a list of people arrested and taken in to the jail, and below that, a list of those released.

It reminds me of a list I once picked up weekly. Like the jail report, the list included admissions and releases, only this list came from the hospital.

Longtime readers of this newspaper will remember when Ed Danelly published a similar list. Those who were in the local hospital for surgery were reported to be “under the knife.”

HIPAA changed all of that. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued the privacy rule to implement the requirement of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (“HIPAA”). The privacy rule standards address the use and disclosure of individuals’ health information by organizations subject to the privacy rule, as well as standards for individuals’ privacy rights to understand

and control how their health information is used.

I thought of those less private days Friday as I sat in the waiting room of a medical facility while Honey went “under the knife.” His was a long-planned procedure, a partial replacement of a very worn out knee.

As I waited calmly for what was to be No Big Deal, a group of eight across the way appeared anxious, constantly texting, talking about activating prayer warriors, and pacing.

When a doctor finally came out to speak to them, he decided to take them to a private room. It would have been easier to send me to another room.

They are funny things, waiting rooms. No matter that HIPAA has conditioned us to expect privacy when receiving the official news, that news generally is shared with all within hearing distance in a matter of moments.

Eventually, the eight people across the way reported their loved one lost 90 percent of her blood volume from complications of an ectopic pregnancy. The surgeon who had ushered the family into private quarters literally saved the life of the wife, daughter, sister and daughter-in-law of those gathered.

As I listened to them talking about the people they were texting, Facebooking, and calling, I wondered again about HIPAA, and if the semi-conscious woman who was now in ICU, who probably really didn’t know what had happened to her, minded that they were sharing this information so freely.

Truth is, so many people disclose so much through social media, a simple report of people “under the knife” seems lame by comparison. Really lame.

P.S. Honey h­as some nice drugs and is fine. So is the woman who was so critical. I saw her folks. They told me.