Hipaa

All posts tagged Hipaa

This story sounds fake, and had I not lived it I’d think it was.

Published January 6, 2020 by ia84

I have had bronchitis for what is beginning to feel like forever. Back in November I started waking up every morning with a really bad cough. This continued until the Friday before Christmas. That’s when I developed a sore throat to accompany the cough. That entire weekend I dealt with my voice going bye-bye and generally feeling awful. The Monday before Christmas I went to my doctor’s office, and they did a flu test, because I was showing symptoms of the flu. The test came back negative, but they decided to treat me for the flu anyway (Omaha is currently a hotbed of flu, so not an unreasonable treatment decision). Then on Christmas, breathing got so difficult I found myself in the ED, where they did chest x-rays and another flu test. My chest was clear and I was definitely negative for flu. They gave me a breathing treatment, and diagnosed me with an upper respiratory viral infection. With being in the middle of the holidays, the earliest I could get in to see my regular doctor for a follow up was last Friday (1/3). Since I wasn’t doing much better, she diagnosed me with bronchitis, and prescribed me a couple of meds, one of which needs a nebulizer. She also told me that if I’m not over this by my next follow-up, she’s probably going to send me to see a pulmonologist; which considering I have a long history of bad lung infections, bronchitis and pneumonia, is understandable.

And that’s when the drama began.

About an hour after the prescriptions were sent in, I got a call from CVS letting me know that they could fill the all the meds, but they didn’t carry nebulizers. No big deal, I thought. I left a message for my doctor regarding this, and went to work. Mid-afternoon, I received a message from my doctor that she’d sent my nebulizer prescription in to a local pharmacy. Since I worked until 9:30 that night I was unable to go pick up the script.

Saturday morning, I decided to call the pharmacy to see if the script was ready, since I didn’t really want to drive all the way across town to find out it wasn’t. When I called, they informed me that they had received no prescription, and therefore had nothing for me. Baffled, I hung up, and sent a message to my doctor so she’d know what was going on. I knew I wouldn’t hear back anything until today.

First thing this morning I get a message from my doctor stating she called the pharmacy, and when they looked into their faxes, they found the script that had been sent on Friday. They just hadn’t printed it out. Now they had, and they told her they were in the process of getting it put together for me.

I had some other errands to run, and when I got done, I realized I had enough time to swing by the pharmacy before my therapy appointment.

I stupidly assumed that since this was a local pharmacy that’s been around forever, it was going to be a good experience handled by helpful people.

I walked in, and there was a guy and a gal working the drop-off and pick-up area. They both appeared to be in either their late 50’s or early 60’s. On the shelf right behind them was sitting a nebulizer with paperwork tucked into the top of the box (I mention this, because it will come up later in the story). I told them why I was there, and received a confused reaction from them. The man went, “A nebu…?” As if I had uttered a foreign word. To which I responded, “A nebulizer.” He shook his head, and the woman said, “We don’t have any orders for that.”

I proceeded to tell them everything from my doctor sending the script to the fact she had called this morning to find out why they hadn’t received it. I told them she was told it was there and being put together for me. I offered to give them my doctor’s info and the clinic phone number so they could verify what I was saying. Instead they asked me if I’d ever been to their pharmacy before, and who did my doctor talk to this morning. The answers were no, and I have no idea. The guy then pulls out this pile of papers and starts rifling through them, which leads to he and the gal getting into an argument because these are the faxes from the last two weeks and no one’s gone through them yet.

At that point I seriously considered walking out, but instead I pointed to the nebulizer behind them and asked if that was the paperwork they were looking for. Neither one even looked, they just informed me. “No, it’s not.” After several more minutes of going through faxes and fighting with each other, I was told they didn’t have it, and was I sure it had been sent to them. Considering that my doctor had provided me with the name, address, and phone number of their pharmacy as where I was supposed to go, I knew I was in the right place. Again I offered to give them my doctor’s contact information, but they blew me off.

While this is happening, other people started coming in, and they turned their attention to helping those customers. After they handled a few people, the gal turned to me and asks if I’ve ever been there before, and could I be in their system. I told her I’ve never gotten my prescriptions filled by them, so I doubt I’m in their system.

They helped more customers.

Finally, the guy told me that they don’t have my script and he doesn’t know how else to help me. Really frustrated at that point, I told him I’m going to go get ahold of my doctor and find out what she wants me to do. He then offered to call and get the script.

I give him the info, and waited as he called. He got the info and had them fax over the script again. When he got off the phone, he told me that the fax number they sent to before is one he’s unfamiliar with. He then proceeds to try to look me up in their system…which surprise surprise I’m NOT in. I gave him my i.d. and insurance card, and he starts inputting my info. At the same time, he decides to have this other customer, who was there to return some medical equipment, come up to the same desk, right next to me to start her return process. And when I say right next to, I mean picture the bank teller area, and instead of having her go to a separate station, he had her come to the same station I was at, where all my private information was sitting out, easy to see. I snagged my stuff as soon as I could, but not as soon as I would’ve liked. Since I work in healthcare, this whole situation set off so many privacy violation alarms in my head.

Finally, he told me that once he receives the script, he’ll send my insurance info to their people that will investigate (yes, he actually said investigate), my insurance to see if the nebulizer will be covered.

After 30+ minutes of this nightmare, I finally left, and headed for therapy. This is where the story gets even better.

My therapist is based in the same practice as my doctor. I figured that I’d see if there was a way to catch my doctor after therapy, just to give her a heads up regarding the situation. As it turned out, I ended up running into her in the hall as my therapist and I were headed back to session.

Doctor: Did you see my message? I got a hold of the pharmacy this morning and they’re filling the script.

Me: Yeah, so I just spent 30+ minutes over there and they had no idea what I was talking about.

This led to me relating the entire situation that had transpired at the pharmacy. Both my therapist and doctor were equally horrified as I filled them in. Then when my doctor found out that I still don’t have the nebulizer, she was clearly upset

Turns out, this pharmacy is the one place in town she’d found that is currently carrying nebulizers. She told me she was going to call them again to see if she could get a better handle on what was going on with them, and why I’d had such a ridiculous experience.

So, now I wait…and try not to cough.

At least this usually only happens once a month.

Published March 1, 2018 by ia84

If I ever don’t work in the world of healthcare, the one thing I will never EVER miss is working on the days immediately before, on, and directly following a full moon.

Full moons suck.

The boy honestly believes I’m just superstitious. I think he wouldn’t think that if he’d seen the weirdness that I’ve seen.

When I worked in the vet clinic, a full moon guaranteed that the worst, most bat-crap crazy pet owners and their even more insane pets would descend like a cloud of locusts. (Cloud? Herd? Flock? I can’t remember the right of term right now.) On top of that, downright weird stuff would happen. Awful phone calls, and things that were mind-blowing bizarre. It didn’t just happen once. I could depend on it happening Every. Single. Month. I would intentionally use vacation time, just so I didn’t have to work on full moon days. Looking back, my coworkers might have wondered if I was a werewolf.

Today, it was just reinforced to me how truly awful full moons can be. I can’t actually write about it A. Because I wasn’t directly involved, and more importantly B. I’m not willing to violate HIPAA just for a blog post. Let’s just leave it that it was sad and I was reminded, yet again, that I work with some amazingly strong, smart, wonderful humans.

I Can Be Your Herooooooooo

Published June 1, 2013 by ia84

Today as I was driving to work, I realized that I have not updated this blog in nearly a month.  I had a few posts I started writing, but it was all awkward and slightly disjointed.  Mostly, I just haven’t felt like I’ve had much to write about.  Lately, my days consist of getting up, exercising, going to work, coming home, exercising, and going to bed.  My weekends replace going to work with puppet rehearsal and errands.  Oh, yeah, I’ve also been having mini-panic attacks.  I guess I’m becoming a grown-up.

Y’know, part of being a grown up is dealing with things.  Things like failures and screw-ups.  The counselor I saw last fall told me I have an adjustment disorder.  In case you’re wondering, that’s fancy talk for “doesn’t like change or accept it gracefully, if at all.”  It’s pretty much true.  Weirdly, I remember a time when I really enjoyed change.  Every time my  family would move, I’d be excited (unlike normal kids who pitch a fit about their lives being ruined).  I was convinced that each move was just another adventure.  I loved adventures.  I loved seeing new things, and meeting new people (I still love seeing new things, but not so much the whole meeting new people).  I’m not sure when this optimism melted into terror.  I just know that somewhere in the last ten years, I began to fear change.  Change was never good, nothing good could come of it.

I’m a vet tech.  I’ve even got a license from the state of Nebraska to prove this.  This means that I clawed my way through an associate’s program.  Sure, I attended a for-profit school.  I know a lot of people look down their noses at this.  However, I wasn’t just handed a degree.  I had to learn and prove I could do things like run anesthesia on a living animal (and successfully keep it alive during surgery), take radiographs, pill a cat, draw blood from a horse, assist in surgery, perform manual CBC’s, memorize more parasite’s than House ever mentioned, and a pile of other things that involved a lot more poop, pee, and blood and a lot less playing with the cute kitties and doggies.  On top of that I had to take classes.  And pass tests.  And do a 56  hour ward care week every 10 weeks (this was frequently included holidays, and I couldn’t always get the week off from my job).  Not only did I do all this, but once I did finally graduate (test anxiety helped push my 18 month plan out to being almost 3 years), I had to face the board exam.  The board exam was 225 questions covering all aspects of being a veterinary technician.  200 of the questions were scored, and 25 were thrown out, and of course we weren’t told which were the magic questions that were getting tossed.  I passed it.

The job I mentioned above?  I hated it.  I really, really hated it.  (However, I met some amazing people, and met some pets that will forever have my heart).  Not at first.  At first I loved it.  I was working in a vet clinic, and that was fantastic.  I started as a receptionist, with the understanding that I would gradually be worked into a tech position as I got further in my education.  At least, that’s what I thought.  There were a lot of things that went wrong (and most I can’t talk about, because the clinic would probably hunt me down and send dementors to suck my soul out).  I can say that the little confidence I had was destroyed by that place.  In the early days, when I was actually enthusiastic about learning to be a tech, the doctor blew me off more than once when it came to helping.  She regularly chose to have anyone but me lend a hand.  I know I wasn’t the best tech (but believe me, I’ve seen worse).  I struggled.  Lack of feeling in my fingers made blood draws next to impossible.  Emergencies made my mind go blank.  Asking people for money while they were saying good-bye to their best friend set off nuclear explosions in my heart, and  by the time I left I was completely heartless.  There was just a void.  (And yes, I know that medicine is all about the money.  Believe me there is nothing like having to ask someone in the throes of grief  and waiting for the euthanasia med to be administered, for over $100.  And when you get someone who explodes and tears you apart for something that’s killing you inside, it’s too much.  I especially hated how everyone around me acted like I was being too melodramatic.  “Sure, we hate it too.” They’d say, as I’d get ushered in to do the unpleasantness.)

I kept telling myself that I couldn’t quit.  I needed the money.  I had to pay my bills.  I think God knew I’d stay there until I had a stroke.  The job came to a painful end, but it was truly for the best.  I’ve never regretted my decision to leave.

I spent the next year looking for a job.  Most jobs that I applied to, I got replies like this:

Thanks for your time last week.  I have hired an extern instead of a full-time tech for now.  If things don’t work out, I will keep your resume.  Again, thank you for your time and good luck.   (Yeah, because a ungraduated, unlicensed, unexperienced tech is always the better option.  I translated this e-mail to mean: We don’t have to pay them, and we’d have to pay you.)

And then there’s this little gem:

After evaluating all candidates for this position we have determined that another candidate more closely fits the requirements set forth for this position. Accordingly, you will not be considered further for this particular opportunity.  

Anyway, this has been a long meandering route to get to the heart of what I wanted to talk about.  Basically, the nearly 5 years of constant rejection did quite a number on me.  I’m not proud of this.  I should be made of tougher stuff, but I’m not.  Following leaving the clinic, I really struggled with the idea of ever working in animal healthcare again.

Today, I was at work, doing my usual thing, and as I worked, my brain started thinking about things.  Things I didn’t necessarily want to think about.  I founds myself wondering if I could ever do anything good in animal healthcare.  Then, something wonderful happened.  I got a phone call.  Well, not me personally, but I’m the person who happened to answer the phone.  On the other end of the line was a vet tech who was absolutely frantic.  (And this is about where I have to skip over a pile of details, because I’m not wanting to step on HIPAA’s toes).  Long, long story short, she had a problem, and I was able to fix it.  It was positive for her, her clinic, and the animal.

Now, no one at work got why I was excited about fixing the problem.  I had done good in animal healthcare for the first time in forever!  I got to be the hero of the story.

How I Angered The Sea Witch…and Other Randomness In My Life

Published March 30, 2013 by ia84

-I love my job!  I really, really do.  However, because of the sensitive HIPAA (HIPPA?  I’m too lazy to actually Google the acronym right now), regulations, I can’t really talk much about my job.  I’m not 100% certain what qualifies as invasion of privacy.  Yikes!  Maybe just mentioning that I have a job that I love is invasion of privacy.

Probably not.

Anyway, much as I love my job, it has it’s own unique moments.  For example, yesterday.  There was an issue, with a situation (vague enough?  no one feels I’m invading their privacy?), and it resulted in this:

Okay, it wasn’t really Ursula, but there was this moment where I was sitting at my station, and all of a sudden this gal from a different department stormed into our department and came and towered over me.  She’s a very tall, big gal, and even though I’m heavy she makes me look minuscule    When I saw the wrath on her features that were looming over me, all I could think was, “Oh crap, how have I angered Ursula, the sea witch?”

Now, equating someone you work with to a Disney villain/villainess is hardly kind or fair.  However, I wasn’t looking to be fair at that moment, I was too terrified to be logical.  Anyway, much like a predator can smell fear, this gal seemed to sense just how freaked out she was making me, and she used that to her advantage.  The situation did get resolved-ish, but it’ll be interesting to see what happens Monday.

-One cool part of my job is all the different types of bodily specimens I get to see in a day.  I see things removed in surgery (I don’t do anything with those, but they come in our department so I usually see someone else working with them), and all sorts of bodily fluids and other things that normal people run far away from.  However, there is one specimen that it’s going to take me a while to get used to dealing with.

Semen.

About once a week I’ll have to ferry a cup of this stuff to another department.  I know that in light of everything else I see, this should not ook me out, but there’s just something creepy about having to handle it.  Maybe it’s because of the way it’s obtained.

And I’m thinking that’s probably about all I should say about that (before absolutely everyone stops reading).

-Camp NaNoWriMo starts on Monday.  Basically, this is kind of a practice for NaNoWriMo in November.  This is the first year I’ll be taking part in Camp NaNo, and I have absolutely no idea what I’m going to write about.  So far the only useful suggestion I’ve been given has been, “Anything with dragons.”  Which, as everyone knows, dragons automatically make any story better, so that was something I’d already been considering, but it was nice to have it affirmed.

-I’m starting to seriously think about getting my own car.  I know I need another thing to pay on like I need another hole in my head, but it would be nice to have my own vehicle again.

Hipaa

Published January 8, 2013 by ia84

So, it occurred to me tonight that while I get to see and handle a lot of cool and gross stuff at work, I can’t really talk about it for two reasons.  Reason #1: Most people don’t seem to enjoy thinking about blood and other things that come out of the body.  Reason #2: Hipaa.

If you’re not familiar with Hipaa, here’s a quick take on it.  Basically, Hipaa is something the government put into practice that’s supposed to protect patient’s and keep their information confidential.  This means that I can’t write and/or talk about specifics of the medical records I see, list people’s names/personal information, or disclose things I may have heard others saying.  Now, here’s where it’s a good thing my memory is so rotten.  I handle hundreds of samples a day, and look at the information for all of 10-30 seconds.  I couldn’t tell you, even if I wanted to, the names and other personal details.

I don’t think it’s breaking Hipaa to mention that I was super proud of myself for pouring urine out of a jug into a little container without spilling or splashing any.  I really didn’t think I could manage it, but I was successful!  (This is one of those gross things that I forget most people don’t really want to think about.)

Anyway, day two of my new job went pretty well.  I’m definitely learning, and will be quite glad when I can do things without having to ask for help.  Also, I’m super glad that my clinical pathology teacher in tech school got so in-depth in class.  What I learned in that class is starting to come back pretty clearly, and helping me to feel less lost.

Final positive part of my day: one of the gals at work asked me how old I was and she was really surprised that I was 28.  She was sure I was younger!  I love when people think I look younger than I am.  I certainly feel younger than I am.