Testing & Confidentiality

  • in_this_corne...

    Posts: 704

    Aug 18, 2012 4:26 PM GMT
    This past week I went in for a series of std tests. All results negative. Normally I would go to my regular doctor, but for convenience I went to a nearby clinic.

    Fast forward a few days, and I get the below email from someone who works at the clinic...

    "Sure, come into my clinic and not say hello. Haha. I saw ur name in the appt. book after u left and thought, I know that name."

    Ok, so I do know this person, but I haven't talked to him in many, many years. I didn't see him when I was there. We met in college about 18 years ago. Nice guy, but even saying we're acquaintances would be a stretch at this point.

    Where does this fall on the 'appropriate' scale?
  • HottJoe

    Posts: 21366

    Aug 18, 2012 4:29 PM GMT
    That's on the creepy end of the scale.icon_eek.gif
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Aug 18, 2012 4:52 PM GMT
    Patient privacy is governed by both State & Federal laws. Not being an expert in this law, I don't know if this was a violation. Certainly if this person had shared your patient medical file with any unauthorized third party, or somehow used it for his own personal gain, that would break the law.

    This was information from the appointment book, which any clerical employee in that office can legally access, and use to contact a patient for medical purposes. How often do we get those 1-day-ahead reminder calls of an upcoming appointment? Or a need for followup, or verifying info, etc.

    I think this may be an ethical issue regarding the office's own internal operating procedures. Using the patient contact info to make a call for personal social reasons may not be permitted there. But I'm not sure if any public laws were broken.

    As for inappropriate, yeah perhaps somewhat unprofessional, because a call out of the blue is always spooky. Yet if he had recognized you at the clinic, would it have been OK for him to say "Hi, I think I know you. Remember me? I'm..." etc?

    Conversely, however, I've been at HIV/AIDS agencies working on admin projects, and on the days when we had clients in our waiting room, staff were told not to acknowledge anyone they already knew who was sitting there. The patient could chose to say hello, but we could not initiate any exchange, since many were keeping their HIV poz status confidential.

    It also prevented us from using their names in front of others, since patients were escorted to their appointments, not paged. Nor of course could we go home and later tell someone: "Guess who I saw at our HIV clinic for treatment today!" icon_eek.gif

    So the level of privacy and the policies, especially involving HIV/AIDS, can be quite complex.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Aug 18, 2012 4:58 PM GMT
    I suppose I could argue that either way but I lean towards not a problem. I don't see a violation of confidentiality unless he's telling people about your visit, which you don't indicate is known.

    Recognizing your face or your name by your visit and saying hello? That's not stalking, that's being friendly. Suppose you saw him in person and not that he saw your name on a list, should he have made believe he didn't see you so as to protect your sense of anonymity?

    Basically what you seem to be saying is that simply acknowledging your existence and past acquaintance is a basis for breach of confidentiality and that I can not argue for. I would argue for you to let down some defenses and let the guy take you out for coffee.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Aug 18, 2012 5:15 PM GMT
    Don't blow that out of proportion mate . It just was a friendly greeting from an old friends that was happy to be reacquainted with you after 18 years ... A breach of confidentiality would be if he tells everyone about you heath history .
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Aug 18, 2012 5:18 PM GMT
    I think the fact that he contacted you, is indicating that he's not stalking you or anything. If he doesn't let you know then he might be stalking you.

    But yeah I can see how you'd be creeped out
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Aug 18, 2012 5:51 PM GMT
    I doubt he violated any laws by doing this.

    But who knows, HIPPAA laws are hard to understand.

    I know in most medical facilities you are not supposed to access records unless it is work related. For instance, if he accessed you records to find out how to get a hold of you, he could probably be in hot water.

    From the sound of it though, I see no reason to be upset.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Aug 18, 2012 5:53 PM GMT
    Did you have anything against that guy back in College or not? If you did, then you do have a reason to be upset but if you guys had nothing against each other or if you didn't hate him or anything. Then I don't think you should think too much about this.
  • thadjock

    Posts: 2183

    Aug 18, 2012 7:57 PM GMT

    if you haven't kept in touch and weren't even friends i think him contacting you by email is inappropriate, and shows poor judgment on his part,

    but i'd be more worried if he worked at my bank and did something wierd like that
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Aug 18, 2012 8:00 PM GMT
    I would feel weird about it too, but maybe he is opening a door for maybe friendship again, its up to you what you would like to do with it.
  • thadjock

    Posts: 2183

    Aug 18, 2012 8:04 PM GMT
    asnextdoor saidI would feel weird about it too, but maybe he is opening a door for maybe friendship again, its up to you what you would like to do with it.


    yeah maybe, but that shit should happen on FB not as the result of info obtained from a doctor visit. fail on his part. and was your email in the appt. book or did he have to get into your file to get your email....
  • Suetonius

    Posts: 1842

    Aug 18, 2012 9:17 PM GMT
    theantijock saidI suppose I could argue that either way but I lean towards not a problem. I don't see a violation of confidentiality unless he's telling people about your visit, which you don't indicate is known.

    Recognizing your face or your name by your visit and saying hello? That's not stalking, that's being friendly. Suppose you saw him in person and not that he saw your name on a list, should he have made believe he didn't see you so as to protect your sense of anonymity?

    Basically what you seem to be saying is that simply acknowledging your existence and past acquaintance is a basis for breach of confidentiality and that I can not argue for. I would argue for you to let down some defenses and let the guy take you out for coffee.

    I would agree with Antijock - Just b/c he saw your name in the appointment book doesn't mean that he went through your records to see what your test results were, or even what you went to the clinic for. If he saw you in the waiting room/lobby/whatever, recognized you and said hello (which would have been quite appropriate) would you have pretended not to remember him? If you ran into someone at your doctor's office, would you not greet them?
    Actually, sending you an email was the least intrusive means he could use to contact you. You get to ignore the email if you want to, and he'll never know that you got it, or you can send either a brief non-enouraging response, or a more welcome one.

    I think sending an email is very harmless. I recently registered with my college alumni office, and got access to other graduates' email addresses and phone numbers by posting mine. I was curious about a few guys I had not seen since I graduated. To one guy I had known fairly well, really liked, and was curious about, instead of telephoning, I sent a long email telling what had gone on in my life and suggesting we get reacquainted . He never responded. I will never know why, but I think my email was far less intrusive on his life than a phone call would have been, where he would have been forced to talk to me even if were not inclined to do so.
  • calibro

    Posts: 8888

    Aug 18, 2012 9:22 PM GMT
    what he did is actually illegal.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Aug 18, 2012 9:48 PM GMT
    Suetonius said
    theantijock saidI suppose I could argue that either way but I lean towards not a problem. I don't see a violation of confidentiality unless he's telling people about your visit, which you don't indicate is known.

    Recognizing your face or your name by your visit and saying hello? That's not stalking, that's being friendly. Suppose you saw him in person and not that he saw your name on a list, should he have made believe he didn't see you so as to protect your sense of anonymity?

    Basically what you seem to be saying is that simply acknowledging your existence and past acquaintance is a basis for breach of confidentiality and that I can not argue for. I would argue for you to let down some defenses and let the guy take you out for coffee.

    I would agree with Antijock - Just b/c he saw your name in the appointment book doesn't mean that he went through your records to see what your test results were, or even what you went to the clinic for. If he saw you in the waiting room/lobby/whatever, recognized you and said hello (which would have been quite appropriate) would you have pretended not to remember him? If you ran into someone at your doctor's office, would you not greet them?
    Actually, sending you an email was the least intrusive means he could use to contact you. You get to ignore the email if you want to, and he'll never know that you got it, or you can send either a brief non-enouraging response, or a more welcome one.

    I think sending an email is very harmless. I recently registered with my college alumni office, and got access to other graduates' email addresses and phone numbers by posting mine. I was curious about a few guys I had not seen since I graduated. To one guy I had known fairly well, really liked, and was curious about, instead of telephoning, I sent a long email telling what had gone on in my life and suggesting we get reacquainted . He never responded. I will never know why, but I think my email was far less intrusive on his life than a phone call would have been, where he would have been forced to talk to me even if were not inclined to do so.


    I'm not certain but I think the only real issue here is what...

    ...KaiserJohn said (that) I doubt he violated any laws by doing this.

    But who knows, HIPPAA laws are hard to understand.

    I know in most medical facilities you are not supposed to access records unless it is work related. For instance, if he accessed your records to find out how to get a hold of you, he could probably be in hot water.

    From the sound of it though, I see no reason to be upset.


    And the only reason I know this is because of volunteer work I do at a nearby hospital and our required confidentiality training.

    Looking at a sign in sheet might have been his job. For billing? Some other record keeping? I don't know. If he got email off facebook or some other way I think it would be hard to prove this as being a big issue. If he got email directly from your records, maybe the guy needs a refresher training class in privacy. I'd be surprised if this amounted to much more than that.

    Meanwhile, if he was cute and single and you were looking and if you remembered liking him, this wouldn't be an issue at all. So going by that gay criteria, then if even if you don't like him or he's overweight, now it would become hypocritical to make it an issue even if it technically was one.
  • in_this_corne...

    Posts: 704

    Aug 18, 2012 11:44 PM GMT
    Interesting replies, thanks. icon_smile.gif

    I want to clarify I never suggested he was stalking...and certainly I'm not making an issue of this. I just think the info he shared with me while reaching out is odd. He could have said anything else like long time no talk, was thinking about you, blast from the past, wanted to see how you're doing, etc. and I wouldn't have thought twice about it. The whole, 'hey you were in my clinic' was teetering on inappropriate. But considering what he does I could see where he may not think that. As I said, he's a nice guy. I will send a reply. This has zero to do with his appearance, features or any of that. It has all to do with how he chose to get my attention and say hi. Like an earlier poster said, it's a clinic, not Nieman's. icon_smile.gif
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Aug 19, 2012 3:05 AM GMT
    Is he the owner of the clinic? The email seems to suggest so.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Aug 19, 2012 7:05 AM GMT
    Definitely an illegal HIPPAA violationicon_exclaim.gif
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Aug 19, 2012 7:13 AM GMT
    Do you have an unusual name or something? I don't think that after almost two decades someone who casually knew you would see a name on an appointment page and automatically know it was you. In 18 years life could have taken you two in very different directions. And for that I say he could have used a very different approach other than blatantly saying he knew it was you the whole time.

    Who knows, maybe this is the start of your very own Romantic Comedy...but I've also seen scary movies that start this way...lock your doors.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Aug 19, 2012 12:52 PM GMT
    wallcrawler83 saidDo you have an unusual name or something? I don't think that after almost two decades someone who casually knew you would see a name on an appointment page and automatically know it was you. In 18 years life could have taken you two in very different directions. And for that I say he could have used a very different approach other than blatantly saying he knew it was you the whole time.

    Who knows, maybe this is the start of your very own Romantic Comedy...but I've also seen scary movies that start this way...lock your doors.


    You'd be surprised how different directions collide.

    Just the other week a friend from grade school now in California was telling me he met at the dog park one of our old classmates from New Jersey who, it turned out, moved to his town. I don't recall that person at a reunion so we haven't seen her in about 40 years.

    I was online many years ago on AOL and noticed a screen name reminding me of a college suitemate from 20 years before. So I sent an instant message and sure enough, it was him. Totally freaked him out. Funny thing was we were both in a M4M room but neither knew the other was gay in college.

    On another occasion I was in a conversation with this guy who turns out to be the grandson of a very famous guy who was a close colleague of my uncle. So about a 100 years later, these different directions are still bumping into each other at random.

    I can think of numerous stories like that between my own life and my family's and friends'. This shit happens all the time.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Aug 19, 2012 2:06 PM GMT
    It doesn't appear that a violation occured although confidentiality in doctor/lab visits could be WAY better especially with regard to patient names. If you think about it, the DMV's ticket system is more confidential.

    Two weeks ago, I went to get bloodwork drawn. I signed in and could see everyone's name for the day and which doctor AND THE REASON FOR THE VISIT. Once signed in, we were all sitting in chairs facing each other in the lobby and they yelled out patient names. Then before they took the patient back they "verified" their full name and date of birth in the lobby. I recognized one lady's name as the wife of one of my old coworkers and she was going into the obgyn part of the office. When I went to the lab section, there were 4 stations set up, and we all verified our names, dob AND the tests that were being done.

    I would switch offices but I have a great doctor and we all know how hard those are to find.