HIPPA – just another bad decision courtesy of the Federal Government

September 2, 2015


In a long line of foolishness mandated by Medicare, HIPPA is at the top of the list. It is at the top of the list because, near as I can tell, it does absolutely nothing to help a patient, and it does quite a bit to hurt a patient.

Let me explain. Prior to HIPPA, when a health professional – me, for instance – saw a patient, they could use their best discretion in who to include in dissemination of information for that patient’s care. The health professional could not willy-nilly give out information to anyone they wished, nor could they give out the information without just cause (meaning that it would benefit the patient in some manner). The health professional was treated like a, you know, health professional.

That is no longer the case. Without specific written authorization, a health professional cannot discuss a patients status with anyone. The health professional cannot even acknowlege that they are seeing a specific patient.

In common sense, everyday occurence terms, the patient has a cone of silence surrounding them that only interferes with care. Let me provide many examples,

The silliest is when a family member calls to see if a patient is at therapy, or if they have already left treatment. If the patient is still in PT, we can ask them if we should tell the family member anything. If the patient has already left PT, we are obligated to say, “We cannot acknowlege whether your patient is being seen here or not.” Seriously. If we tell the patient’s child that they have left PT, we have breached patient confidentiality. This could result in a lawsuit when a patient left PT to do something indiscreet, perhaps go to a racetrack or to have an afternoon affair. As a result of our saying, “You father has left PT.” the patient could end up in a divorce, and blame the PT for breaking HIPPA.

The more frustrating, and just as common occurence is when we see a patient’s family member in public, and we really want to share information with them. For instance, we might want to say, “Your mother is very inconsistent in attending PT. I think it is because she is so forgetful. Is there anything you can do to help her attend more consistently?” Even if the patient has signed a HIPPA release form allowing me to talk to their family, when I am out in public, I do not have this information with me. I must assume that I cannot even acknowlege seeing the patient. Does this help the patient? Nope. It only makes care worse.


C25K – over 50

May 10, 2014

Hi, This is Matt – backroom geek of ATPT. Although you are all used to Bruce regaling you with his yarns of this and that, I think I finally have a topic that warrants using some recycled electrons to publish my thoughts.

About three years ago, at an age when I should have known better, I tried my hand (or feet) at running. My daughters, both in their young 20s, ran. My oldest as a JAG candidate for the Air Force and the younger as an endurance regimen for both her university major (Kinesiology) and Michigan State Marching Band.

Me? I was never a runner. In my hay-day, I played baseball and softball. I hit and I ran 90 feet. If I was lucky, I turned left ran another 90 feet. Again if lucky, I turned and ran another 90 feet with an option for one more left and 90 feet to home. Then, I went to the bench and gasped for breath. The thought of running 3 miles always amazed me. And anyone who could had my undying admiration. I could never get half a block. My bride could even harken back to her tennis training and took back to it like riding a bike.

Fast forward to three years ago and my daughters. By this time, I was no longer running 90 feet and turning left – I really wondered if I could run 30 feet much less 3 miles (And I thought the 13.1 and 26.2 stickers on cars were some type of satellite radio station frequency). But I started, half as a sympathy runner and half just to see how far I could get.

I found running to be a matter over mind – it took me a while to learn that running is as much mental as it is physical.

A Lop-Sided Athlete

February 3, 2014

Nick (Grand Rapids, MI)

I’ve got a question for you that I believe may fall under your expertise… I’ve been trying to workout more regularly to try and go for a goal time, as opposed to goals of finishing. Anyway, I have been noticing, I feel like I am lob-sided or feeling workouts more on my right side than left. Read the rest of this entry »

Bicycling – One of my First Loves

June 28, 2012

Rouge Park, Detroit, Michigan

Way oh way back, when I was maybe 7 years old, our family took a bicycle trip from Berkley, Michigan to Rouge Park in Detroit. The trip was about 15 miles long and took maybe two hours. That is my earliest memory of taking a long bicycle trip. (It was almost my last bike trip as at one point I started to ride down the middle of a freeway exit ramp. Fortunately I avoided getting into a collision and my parents survived a heart attack.) Still, aside from the several mishaps of the day, I was hooked and have had a love of bicycling ever since.

Join the Friends of Rouge Park  Read the rest of this entry »

I am still hurting. PT is not helping. What should I do?

June 26, 2012

Atlas: "I don't know why my back has been hurting. I haven't done anything to aggravate it." Physical Therapist: "What???"

With the advent of summertime I have recently had several patients who are having an increase in pain. That is to say, they have had a few weeks of PT, which helped relieve their pain, and then ‘for no reason at all‘ their problem started to hurt again. This caused the patient to wonder if physical therapy was helping or not.

Whenever I have a patient who initially responds well to treatment, and then, ‘for no reason at all‘ starts to hurt again, my first thought is, “I think there is a reason your pain has increased and I have to get you to tell me what it is.” Read the rest of this entry »