Thursday, February 17, 2011

When Doctors Gossiping About Patients Endangers Lives

HIPAA purports to protect patients.  But, as with any piece of legislation, attorneys are often hired to find ways to circumvent that protection.

Doctor A can certainly share confidential patient information with Doctor B to ensure continuity or furtherance of medical care.  Suppose Patient specifically and in writing states that he does not want current treater (Doctor A) to communicate/share medical information with prior treater (Doctor B).  An interesting ethical issue then presents itself when current treater (Doctor A) ignores Patient's directive and communicates with previous treater (Doctor B) in order to "coordinate care."

The ethical dilemma deepens when the conduct of both doctors continues without the knowledge or consent of Patient for over four months while Patient suffers from a life threatening condition.  

(1)  Neither Doctor A nor Doctor B intend to treat Patient

(2)  Neither Doctor A nor Doctor B assisted Patient in locating another qualified physician

(3)  Doctor A caused Patient to incur thousands of dollars in medical bills while at the same time never intending to treat Patient

(4)  Doctor A continued to communicate with Doctor B to "coordinate care" after Patient explained that Doctor B would not be retained to provide any care for Patient 

(5)  Patient spent four months waiting for Doctor A to make a decision about whether Patient was worthy of receiving medical care only to learn that Doctor A preferred Patient return to Doctor B 

Obtaining medical care used to be simple.  A person was sick, went to a physician, (presented an health insurance card) and received medical care.  In extreme circumstances, the health insurance card is not even necessary.  

Today's medical care is more complicated.  Some physicians are, frankly, unexplainable.  There is never, ever a reason to make a sick patient jump through hoops and perform parlor tricks to prove they are worthy of receiving medical care.

If the patient is sick then they should receive medical care.  We don't need Obama Care or The Affordable Care Act to accomplish that.  We need real, human, breathing, ethical physicians.  Those professionals are not as easy to find as one might expect.

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