This week I had an experience that has opened my eyes to the HORROR of having my complete medical history available via computer to way more people than I anticipated, thanks to the new laws that forced medical offices to all go electronic.
Supposed to be good for the patient, right? Supposed to result in better care, right?
It resulted in my care getting...hijacked a little. And having my personal information open to a MUCH LARGER AUDIENCE than it ever has before. I'll give background.
For a week I have been fighting the killer flu. (Get your flu shot,TM).
The night before last I couldn't breathe, all night long. I tried everything. In the morning I called my doctor's office and was told he was on vacation and to go to the emergency room if I couldn't breathe. I considered that a little drastic so I went to the walk-in medical clinic.
When I got there, did I have to give my medical history? Oh no, it was ALL ON THEIR SCREEN. Being read by some walk-in clinic PA who I will never see again. That woman now knows more about me than my college roommate does, than my own children do. Is that right? I don't have a trusted therapeutic relationship with her. But she knows way too much about me now. And after I left, does my info just stay with them, for anybody there to access???
Oh, I should also say that they tried to give me a breathing treatment at the clinic and while doing it I started to feel like I was going to pass out. So they told me to go to the ER after all.
When I got to the ER, THEY KNEW EVERYTHING I HAD DONE THAT MORNING. THEY PRACTICALLY RECREATED MY CONVERSATION WORD FOR WORD WITH THE WALK-IN CLINIC. EVERYTHING WAS WRITTEN DOWN.
Once again, this was THE RECEPTIONIST at the emergency room who HAD MY COMPLETE MEDICAL HISTORY IN FRONT OF HER!!! (Does anyone else see a problem with that?)
My complete medical history was access several more times, by the triage nurse and the triage nurses's helper, the nurse inside the ER, the doctor, a couple other people I'm not even sure who they were.
But here's the kicker: Someone found on my chart that I have panic attacks. THEY STARTED DRAGGING THAT INTO THE DISCUSSION, SUGGESTING THAT MY ANXIETY WAS WHAT WAS MAKING IT HARDER FOR ME TO BREATHE WITH BRONCHITIS.
Did you get that? I have been battling Type B flu for more than a week in bed, developed killer bronchitis, was understandably rattled after a night of no breathing followed by nearly passing out in the clinic, but my symptoms were in no way psychological manifestations. I had a physical illness, and they weren't denying that, but they were trying to build a case that my panic attacks were contributing.
I wasn't the only one who thought this was ridiculous. My ex was with me and he laughed that he was glad, or they might have committed me to the loony bin for having bronchitis.
In the end they gave me about four more meds and they have worked, and today the bronchitis is doing better.
But talk about giving me anxiety. How many people now know my complete medical history? What's worse, how many can just access it now with the click of their fingers?
I used to have some feeling that my files were in some color-coded cabinet in my doc's office, away from prying eyes, unintelligible thanks to bad handwriting only he could read.
Not anymore. The fact that they would go skipping through my file like that just scares the shit out of me. And that they would drag in a history of panic attacks, which is my private mental business, when diagnosising a physical illness left me...breathlesslesser.
Any thoughts on this? Anybody else feel exposed by this new law? I wonder if I just sign NO on all their consent forms, if that will help close my record down somehow?