Sunday, April 27, 2008

Dealing With HIPAA - Some Great Comments!

Folks, I am posting a compilation of comments I have received on HIPAA. What is HIPAA? I went to and found some interesting information. This site explains that "In August of 1996, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was enacted. HIPAA requires the development and implementation of standards for the exchange, storage and handling of certain health care administrative data, security measures and privacy protections."

Personally, I have not encountered any problems with this yet... possibly because I am on "the list" for my grandmother and can be given medical information. But a reader of this blog mentioned that she had several family members who assist her with caregiving when her mother has to be hospitalized, and she has found an easy way to ensure that these family members are all on "the list" of authorized persons for release of medical information. She writes: Do you get tired of adding names & numbers of all the family members that can get info on the "patient"? Thought I'd let you know what we have done. We chose a password. Something easy to remember. In our case we used the name of a family dog. When we are asked to list who medical information can be released to, we indicate that those with the password "??????" can get information. This has worked very well at the hospital and various doctors offices.

Another contributor added: "I'm not sure about the details of HIPPA when it comes to hospitalization but at my annual checkup the nurse did ask if they could leave information with whoever answered the phone or leave a message. HIPPA is a federal law, though how it is applied by various physicians and institutions could vary somewhat."

So, if you are experiencing challenges with this privacy act, perhaps the suggestion of a password will work for your situation.

While I am doing some "housekeeping and comment sharing," I would like to add the following... with a caveat that a reader has reminded me that some folks are actually a JOY to care for... ALL THE TIME, apparently. I know these situations exist, because I have met a few people who tell me, genuinely, that their loved ones are agreeable, always appreciative, and truly delightful to be around most, if not all of the time. This reader suggested: "This is an opportunity to learn much from your grandmother. Please take the time to learn some history from her and her stories (if she is willing to share them). Can you spare an hour when it isn't all about you and what you have to do for her but rather say "Grandma...I'd like to learn more about you." I'm suggesting this to temper any bitterness." I do this, and more. As a writer, I have chronicled stories. As a geneaologist, I have collected sayings, recipes, memories, photos and more over hours and days. I do still drop in on a "non-Thursday" for an occasional visit. We drive 30 miles to visit the cardiologist, and on the ride there and back, I get her to tell me about the places she lived and things she did as we pass by her "old stomping grounds."

Did this person strike a nerve? Maybe... and everything about my situation - and probably yours - is not all bad. But "everyone's shoes are different!" And I never know what the day will bring when I visit my grandmother. It's probably in part due to her advanced age, but some days talking about the past can be pleasant... others it stirs sad or angry memories and bitterness, and I'm sorry I even asked. My mother recalls a roommate of HER mother's in the nursing home whose daughter removed her, saying, "I could never leave my mother in a nursing home." Mom said it was akin to this woman stomping her with a high heel and grinding it in! Did this make my mom the "bad guy" for making the decision that the nursing home was the best place for my grandmother? (It did not, but some days you feel like the world is against you, wouldn't you agree?!)

So, here goes... reader responses... read 'em and see where you fit into this story!

"In our case, my wife and I, and my older brother and his wife do all that is done for my Mom, not just medical, but any help she needs. There are seven children in our family, but unless we call one and specifically ask them to do a certain thing, we get no help. Three of them will not even contribute money to help with the over 3 grand a year for her Medicare Supplement policy, and the others have to be reminded. Those three say they can not afford to help, but they all seem to have money to do what they want, and all can come eat up the food in Mom's house. One sister lives 2 states away so obviously can not be there to help, but the other four could be if they really wanted to.

I imagine their philosophy is that my older brother and I are retired, so we have nothing else to do. *LOL* I would bet money when Mom passes away all of them will be here very quickly with their hand out for anything they can get, and complain they did not get enough, and/or their share."

And this... "I really enjoy this blog. It is not only a place to educate, but an area to let off steam and complain if necessary, and to gather new ideas on how to handle problems. This area also makes you aware that you are not the only person going through stressful and difficult times with loved ones. There are no easy answers in situations such as we are going through, and one never knows if the decisions we make are the right ones are not. All we can do is our best. And I totally agree with what was written (above) about "family". They will complain that things should be handled in a different way, but they never are involved enough to see the real situation."

Have a great week, everybody... and hang in there!

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