Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Hippa Works....Too Well

In the category Stupid American Legislation, Hippa has to be one of the worst laws ever. As with all paths to hell, it started with good intentions:

  1. People should have access to their records
  2. People should not fear being discriminated against when changing employers
  3. People should expect that their records are private
This legislation achieved these goals and much, much more. Doctors, terrified of liability and running afoul of the Feds, restrict information gathering of governmental agencies, families and other doctors causing mounds of frustration.

Imagine: A law intended to make information private actually makes it private.

The New York Times reports that doctors haven't fully educated themselves about Hippa. Really? Every doctor I know was completely freaked out by the legislation. Doctors read up on and informed themselves to the best of their ability, but as the Time's writers report, even experts disagree about the rules. Stupid rules like literally locking patient files away rather than having them in open shelving in a locked office were recommendations at seminars and articles.

New reams of patient disclosures are a must. The fist full of legalese from within the Texas Children's system is laughable. Even the college-educated can't be expected to understand the rules when signing them. It's ridiculous.

Now, the same moob who wrote the legislation wants to fix its problems, by (you guessed it) a new group of bureaucrats:
Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts, a sponsor of the original insurance portability law, was dismayed by the “bizarre hodgepodge” of regulations layered onto it, several staff members said, and by the department’s failure to provide “adequate guidance on what is and is not barred by the law.” To that end, Mr. Kennedy, along with Senator Patrick M. Leahy, Democrat of Vermont, plans to introduce legislation creating an office within the Department of Health and Human Services dedicated to interpreting and enforcing medical privacy.

“In this electronic era it is essential to safeguard the privacy of medical records while insuring our privacy laws do not stifle the flow of information fundamental to effective health care,” Mr. Kennedy said.

This spring, the department revised its Web site, www.hhs.gov/ocr/hipaa, in the interest of clarity. But Hipaa continues to baffle even the experts.
That'll do the trick. More dim-witted middle men to muddy the waters. As if doctors and patients don't have enough grief dealing with the uneducated plebes working in insurance companies deciding patient care. What this new agency will do is find ways to persecute doctors they feel are in non-compliance with some arcane detail.

No bureaucracy in history ever was created to send awards out to those who are doing their best to comply.

And don't forget who is really suffering: the patients. Family are denied access to information. Patients are denied advocacy.

This law needs to be scrapped, but it won't be. Parents, don't let your children grow up to be doctors.

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