Keep Your Patients’ Close & Their Information Closer

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I recently saw an old episode of ER and did a double take at the publicly-facing patient board that listed full patient names, the reason for the ER visit, and curtain number. The episode revolved around Dr. Weaver’s attempt to protect patient confidentiality by implementing a comprehensive system of abbreviations and patient social security numbers on the board–a move not appreciated by the overworked staff. Yet, it got me thinking–when did patient privacy become an understood part of medical care and not an inconvenience?

Nearly every time we go to a medical visit, there are new forms to sign. How many of you are guilty of just signing without reading and turning the clipboard back in to the front desk? [I know I am]. If you’ve ever taken a good look at some of those forms, they often have to do with confidentiality and privacy of information. And, if you’re over 18 years old, you also use those forms to designate individuals to whom your private, medical information can be released–a spouse, parent, sibling, etc.

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