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Have HIPAA laws gone too far

Updated on October 30, 2013

Pesonal Health Information

In 1996 HIPAA or the The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act was signed by congress to protect families from losing coverage in the event of employment loss. In 2003 an amendement was added that all information or PHI (Personal Health Information) maintain the privacy and security of individually identifiable health information as well as outlining numerous offenses relating to health care and sets civil and criminal penalties for violations.

During this time hospitals and doctors offices have developed a practice the makes it impossible for family members to check on their loved ones if a serious illness comes in to play.

I have worked in healthcare for 32 years and have watched countless times, children who have very sick parents, not be able to even call to get information on them because of these practices.

I for one was at the hands of HIPAA over the past week, when my mother had a heart attack and no one was at the hospital with her. Two of us live in Florida, one in Tennessee and the other two in New Jersey. When calling the hospital to get information of how my mother was, the nurse rudely (and I mean rudely) says "I can't give you any information". My mother being in a confused state at that time could not even tell them it was okay to discuss with me her condition. So what would have happened if she died? Who would be responsible for calling the family when she had no numbers on her because she had to get to the hospital immediately by ambulance in order to not die? I find that this law in times like this should be waived and children be given updated information about the parent.

Without any of us being their, she was sent to another hosptial that was 45 minutes away from anyone instead of giving us a choice of a closer hospital because no one was there to insist or no one was called.

I was not asking about her condition I was asking if she was okay at which time all the nurse had to say was "she is stable right now". She didn't have to be rude about it knowing that no one was there. She could have offered at least some peace of mind knowing that none of her children were there with her.

So when is this law considered going too far? In my opinion I think when people have family members that live out of the state they are in, as long as you can verify their date of birth or some other kind of identification proving that yes it is your parent or even your child if they are grown, then the information of their condition should be allowed to be given over the phone so that less stress and anxiety occur to the individuals on the receiving end.

Fortuantely the hospital she was moved to was not as rude, but what if she would have died? How could they even live with themselves that this womans own children called to find out if she was okay or not and not only would they give us no information, but they were rude about it also.

The hospital I work for gives the patients a pass code when they enter the emergency room so that family members can call and get updates on their loved ones. A hospital should not just be allowed to say I can't give you any information when you have a parent or child who could possibly pass away.

In an emergency situation such as this, my mother didn't have any information on her so I think that they would welcome at least knowing who she was by her own children calling.

This situation really made me uncomfortable and now it may take a million emails, but I will fight so that no other children would have to go through this annoying and unrealistic suffering again.

It could be you next time. Make sure that your parents or grown children tattoo your name on their chest and your phone number so that they will call you if the need arises.

I can understand not giving information to any old person but family members should not have this issue especially when their loved ones are really ill.

Tatoo your wishes on your body so that everyone can see it
Tatoo your wishes on your body so that everyone can see it

Funny how HIPPA is


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    • profile image

      Janice 16 months ago

      My adult son went to the ER after midnight with cellulitis. When he had not come home the next morning, I called and asked about him. I was told he was "released." The ER staff/nurse/or receptionist would not tell me what time he was released because of "HIPAA rules" - I explained that I had full permission to receive information about him, it was page one in his chart. She hung up on me. For 2 days I searched everywhere for him, sheriff, CHP, calling friends and family. I was consumed with fear about him. On the 3rd day he called from the hospital asking why no one came to see him, that he had been admitted from the ER. I'm furious.

    • Author Cheryl profile image

      Cheryl A Whitsett 4 years ago from Jacksonville, Fl

      Thank you ladies for your feedback I did check the no box so now all my hubs are visible

    • HattieMattieMae profile image

      HattieMattieMae 4 years ago from Limburg, Netherlands

      Working in the health care system, and mental health system I understand what you're saying. Although, we are just doing our jobs, and policy states if we break them, we lose our jobs instantly, and may not have another one. While your situation is important for the reasons you stated, on the other hand if we choose to access that information ourselves, steal social security numbers, credit card numbers, or other information like that, or identity theft, we are responsible and can go to jail for it. Missing items as well when we go to homes. Some family members may abuse patients, or want to be in control of money, control of assets, take their parents for a ride, and leave them with nothing. Every one's family is different, and at the same time, emotional, physical, neglect, and mental abuse is what hippa protects. While you may have good families, there are others that don't have good families, or make good choices. Not only that, but say you're a younger person with an illness of some kind, or mental illness that you will never be hired because of your history medically or psychologically. People can hand off information, share it with anyone, even on the internet. Who knows where your information goes. My suggestion would be, get a power of attorney over your mother, or become a legal guardian to have that information. Otherwise a court appointed one. There are ways to get that information, but you should have set this up with your mother at some point deciding who would make those choices, manage money, and her care. You can find websites with that information the steps you can take to prevent this from happening again.

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 4 years ago from North Texas

      I'm aware of this because I have a brother-in-law who ends up in hospital often due to a combination of a rare type of leukemia and diabetes. Agree with you that the law is much too broad and needs to have allowances made for certain people to get info when they need it.

      A living will would seem to answer many of these issues, but of course making sure that will is on file where any medical personnel/hospital can access it is another matter. A system where that will can be registered on line for easy accessibility from anywhere in the world so that any hospital or medical practitioner will know your wishes and who may get access to your information would seem to be the solution. Then inquirers should only need to show I.D. when in person or give a password over the phone. Voted this article up and interesting and I will share it with my followers.

      Beyond this specific article, may I make a recommendation to you? I note that you have published 95 hubs, yet only 31 are visible and available here on your profile page to be read.

      To correct that, go to your profile page. Click on "Edit Profile." Go to almost the bottom of that page where it says "Show only Featured Hubs on my profile:" Click on the 'NO' box and then all of your hubs will be visible again on your profile page, for anyone who wishes to read them.

      I realize they have been idled, which is why they aren't showing, but that's no reason not to make them available for readers interested in them. After all your work of writing them, let people who wish to read them do so. The advertising remains on them, so benefit all you can from them even though they are not currently indexed by Google.

      It has been my experience that some of my hubs go in and out of idleness in streaks as they become popular for a while and then not again. Back and forth, back and forth.

      The reason they are idled is because they do not get enough traffic. It isn't because they are defective. While it never hurts to edit and edit one's work for spelling and grammar errors, etc. (one's own eyes never seem able to find them all, but going over it again and again is helpful), the main thing is to use words in your title that someone might use if they were searching for information like the info in that specific hub. Ask yourself what words would you use if you were searching for this info. Use those words in your title.

      Snappy titles look great on the newsstand and on a magazine you have just purchased, but people using the Google search box aren't going to try to think those up when they're searching for your information. So what I'm saying here is that titles matter for search purposes. Changing the title to reflect its contents may affect the popularity of the hub, but the main reason a hub gets idled is because of little or no traffic.

      Otherwise do everything you can to get your hubs traffic. Promote your hubs whenever you get the opportunity, but also make them available to people who visit your profile. I visit people's profiles all the time looking for a hub that interests me. It's my way of saying thank you for taking time to read and comment on my hub. I realize that when someone comments, or especially if they share one of my hubs with their followers, that hub gets exposure and it may be just what is needed to make it successful.

      Best wishes always!


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      Johnny 4 years ago

      Great hub voted up and useful