First HIPAA Conviction

symtym links to the first ever conviction under the new HIPAA laws.

…age 42, of SeaTac, Washington pleaded guilty today in federal court in Seattle to wrongful disclosure of individually identifiable health information for economic gain. This is the first criminal conviction in the United States under the health information privacy provisions of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) which became effective in April, 2003. Those provisions made it illegal to wrongfully disclose personally identifiable health information.
As set forth in the Plea Agreement, (criminal) admitted that he obtained a cancer patient’s name, date of birth and social security number while (criminal) was employed at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, and that he disclosed that information to get four credit cards in the patient’s name.

The case looks open and shut, and the defendant plead guilty, so that takes care of the “did he do it” thing.

The part of this that bothers me is that what he did was plain old identity theft, which is a crime all its own, and is covered by a lot of laws having nothing to do with medicine. My legally-uneducated mind thinks HIPAA was used because it is much more ‘guilty until proven innocent’ than a more conventional criminal charge.

I could be wrong, and I really hope I am, but this HIPAA law was written by and for lawyers, and patients and their healers are second-thoughts.

Oh, and join me in begging Symtym to change the colors on his blog (or do what I do, use Opera and turn off the style sheet, or use Firefox and apply your own style sheet). That white and purple on black is hard to read.

Updated to include the facts of the case, at the behest of Dr. Winters, whose blog is still malfunctioning.

More tips from the Nurses

I was perusing the contents of a “transport box” the other day, and marvelled that there were so many drugs in it. This isn’t our code/resuscitation box, this is taken with the patient when a transport is made from ER to another critical care area.
push faster, please

I mentioned the surplus of meds to the senior (but very very youthful) nurse present, who held forth with the following advice: “If you use this many drugs, you’re not pushing fast enough”. Words to live and transport by.

A Colleague Returns

The colleague who told me the Fort Worth ED Truism left our hospital last year, as he wanted a chance to be an ED Director. He’s accomplished what he wanted to do, and found it to be dull after that, so he’s coming back to work with us!

This is a little problematic, as we’ve hired a replacement, and would never let someone go in this circumstance (it’s not up to me, but it’s not that kind of a group). So, he’ll be part-timing all over the groups’ system until something opens up.

Anyway, it’ll be nice to have him back. Not only is he terribly smart, he’s personable and entertaining. Welcome back, Tad!