By Nancy Black
It sounds like a heavy metal rock band, right? The Twisted Ovary? But it’s not. It’s what I had this past week. I might as well write about it, since everyone who was in the hospital’s emergency room with me that day knows what was wrong with me, too.
They didn’t find out about my medical condition because I told them. After I struggled to walk into the ER that Wednesday afternoon, doubled over in agony, I did not suddenly announce to everyone within earshot that I had severe abdominal pain, fever and was vomiting. The medical staff did that for me.
Throughout my emergency room visit on August 3, my HIPPA rights were violated repeatedly by staff and nurses at the local hospital where I sought care. My medical condition was discussed often by the nurses and staff in front of everyone in the very full lobby. The attending physician was fabulous and tried his best to be discreet while discussing my symptoms. But he was forced — not just once or twice but FOUR TIMES — to relay ALL his diagnostic information to me while I sat doubled-over in a LOBBY FULL OF STRANGERS dealing with their own ailments. I am deaf in one ear (remember my benign brain tumor?), so he was also forced to talk loudly to allow me to hear him over all the emergency room noise.
My sister is a doctor, and she drove me to the hospital that Wednesday. I asked her, as I tried to lie down between two lobby chairs to ease my excruciating stomach pain, “Wasn’t the fact that they were discussing my case in public a HIPPA violation?” She said, “Yes.” The entire process had been a HUGE HIPPA violation, she added.
It was NOT because of lack of space back in the actual emergency “rooms.” They were all empty. I passed them as I made my way to and from my CAT scan and sonograms.
And my HIPPA violations were NOT because of the recent COVID-19 surge in Dallas County.
It is not my job to speculate as to why the hospital found it necessary to provide such negligent care. It is the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) job. They are supposed to provide a remedy for my situation and make sure it never happens again. I absolutely filed a complaint with HHS. I can only hope they take action.
Hospitals and their staff should not get away with embarrassing patients and their families during their most vulnerable moments, who are only seeking solutions to their medical problems.
Visit hhs.gov for more information about HIPPA.