Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Should I blog or not?

Today in school, we talked, in 2 different classes, about the importance of privacy and respecting HIPAA. HIPPA is a warranted, yet quite annoying act. If you haven't heard of it, you will. I have personally taken great pride over the past 4+ years of my personal practice of HIPAA. I do my best to not reveal, disclose, or transmit any information about any pt that I come in contact with. At times my personal observation of HIPAA has even offended those I know when I won't discuss the current health status of a joint friend. Not following HIPAA guidelines can have serious consequences as outlined in section 1177:


"SEC. 1177. (a) OFFENSE.--A person who knowingly and in violation of this part--

"(1) uses or causes to be used a unique health identifier;

"(2) obtains individually identifiable health information relating to an individual; or

"(3) discloses individually identifiable health information to another person,

shall be punished as provided in subsection (b).

"(b) PENALTIES.--A person described in subsection (a) shall--

"(1) be fined not more than $50,000, imprisoned not more than 1 year, or both;

"(2) if the offense is committed under false pretenses, be fined not more than $100,000, imprisoned not more than 5 years, or both; and

"(3) if the offense is committed with intent to sell, transfer, or use individually identifiable health information for commercial advantage, personal gain, or malicious harm, be fined not more than $250,000, imprisoned not more than 10 years, or both.

The class discussions today, brought of different aspects of HIPAA which have caused me to feel quite perplexed. I fear that many of my blogs may in fact be in violation of the law. I question at this time what I can and can not share. I question whether I should blog at all about my experience. I pondered today shutting down my blog altogether, but I have really enjoyed it. So I ponder if I should or should not blog. Without the mention of pt cases it is not very interesting. However, I wouldn't want to go to jail for 5 years or pay $100,000 in fines. I will have to ponder this more.


Brandee said...

HIPAA laws sound similar to the FERPA laws I have to follow in my line of work. We cannot disclose anything about a student but we can safely discuss "scenarios" and generalities. We are not revealing any part of a particular student's personal record by doing so but we do have to be careful even in how we relay it in that manner. I hope you keep blogging...maybe there are ways you can say it without giving too detailed info about the person themselves. For instance, Taylor's doctor gave us many stories of staph cases and consequences but we did not know anything identifiable about the person. She would tell us body parts she had drained, how big or small, if it needed a surgeon or not... it really helped us cope. I really really super duper enjoy your blog so I hope you can find a way to share without sharing too much.

Brandee said...

p.s. It is still interesting even if you don't talk about your patients.

TK said...

I hope you can continue to post as well. It's so interesting to read the accounts of one who is learning and growing each and every day. With your way with words, your blog is just a joy to read. I wish you had time to post every day.

Chara said...

When Josh and I lived in JC there was a medical resident that we went to church with who frequently photographed (With his phone) "interesting" wounds and cases to show people. He said it wasn't illegal as long as he didn't show the person's face or give away their identity in any way. It still felt skeezy because he wasn't really showing us the weird cases for any reason then his own amusement.

However, I have never gotten a skeezy feeling from your blog. I think that your posts are well thought-out and interesting, and when you do talk about patients it is always with respect and you tend to have a point.

I hope you keep blogging, even if you do restrict what you say about patients. I really enjoy reading your thoughts.

Elizabeth said...

I understand your thought process. I have found (and Pat will agree) if you don't disclose names or personal info. you can talk about what goes on at work. You have to get used to saying "One of my patients.." And phrases like that, but you can talk about things you learn and experience at work, as long as the person you are talking to doesn't know exactly who you are talking about. I hope this makes sense. It can be done.