Tags: Asking | Doctor | About | Medical | Privacy | May | Hazardous

Asking Doctor About Medical Privacy May Be Hazardous to Your Health

Tuesday, 01 May 2001 12:00 AM

It is an extremely sensitive subject with health care providers. They are upset as it is about the cost of implementing it. And some of them may go nearly over the edge when hearing complaints about the rule’s threat to privacy. They see pro-privacy efforts as possibly making the rule all the more costly.

This is the story of a woman whom I’ll call Mrs. Millicent M., who contacted NewsMax.com.

She warns, for your benefit: "Please do not question your doctors regarding medical privacy and new regulations. I did so when NewsMax.com broke the story. My doctor seemed taken aback that I would dare question the government’s position on this. He was somewhat annoyed."

What happened next is out of every person’s worst nightmare: a doctor’s cold indifference to a life-threatening disease. Mrs. M. subsequently discovered she had breast cancer. The partner to her regular doctor had her come in to the office.

As she tells it, "He was rather cold and rude, and the upshot was that I was [over 50] and unemployed and therefore worthless."

The doctor went on to tell her that she would not be nursing or modeling at her age. He said he was sending her to a surgeon, "and the way he described what was to happen was nothing but mutilation."

But to see the surgeon, it was necessary for Mrs. M. to have a referral. Several days later she still did not have one. His assistant told her that "she would get to it when she wanted."

Mrs. M. ended up having to cancel an appointment with the surgeon for lack of a referral. "By the time I start all over again, I will probably be dead."

The referral finally did come through since that note was written, and Mrs. M. now tells NewsMax.com that she has an appointment for surgery soon.

She and her husband do have good insurance. And that insurance company has filed a complaint with the doctor about the apparent foot-dragging on a matter so urgent or, as Mrs. M. puts it, "for being such a jerk." She also was referred to another physician.

Meanwhile, she heard from an employee at the doctor’s office that the doctor had "ranted and raved" about her position on medical privacy, declaring that the cost of securing privacy would go way up and would not be covered by insurance.

Mrs. M., by the way, is the person who told NewsMax.com, and which we previously reported to you, about a private investigator who makes a living in her community by selling private medical information.

As to whether she was being overly sensitive, Mrs. M. says that before all this happened, "I was treated rather well at the doctor’s office."

"Be aware of where your doctor stands on the issue, and keep your mouth shut. The alternative [may be] a death sentence."

This is not to imply that all doctors will go "over the edge" when confronted with pro-privacy patients. Part of their training involves comforting the afflicted. Most of them are conscious of the need for a good bedside manner.

But assuming "you never know," Mrs. M.’s advice is "keep the lip zipped" at the doctor’s office.

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It is an extremely sensitive subject with health care providers. They are upset as it is about the cost of implementing it. And some of them may go nearly over the edge when hearing complaints about the rule's threat to privacy. They see pro-privacy efforts as possibly...
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2001-00-01
Tuesday, 01 May 2001 12:00 AM
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