The world from my position as a physician, attorney and entrepreneur.
I was recently on a “Professional” social media site where questions are asked of attorneys, and answers are attempted by the attorneys (without constituting legal advice, of course). While scrolling through the questions, I came across one from a therapist who, having been made aware that a teenaged minor was endangered by her home situation (an abusive parent), wanted to know if she could be “emancipated” and what would be involved. While they should have simply spoken with a local attorney, this, in and of itself, was not the issue.
In the question, the therapist reveals the name of the minor, the town where she lives, and even gives her own name and a telephone number where she can be reached. I have no doubt that the therapist’s intentions were good, and that the perceived urgency of the situation was the reason why she felt it necessary to disclose so much information, but instead of helping her client, she has now violated nearly every confidentiality statue, regulation and ethical standard I can think of, while also opening herself up to lawsuits from almost everyone involved, including the abusive parent. She has even increased the vulnerability of the minor in question to possible predators.
Would she have posted all this information on a bulletin board in the public square? Probably not, yet that is exactly what she did. She may get away with it this time because the site where she posted it is a legal site, and her client and her client’s relatives may not ever see it. On the other hand, we all know how often these things go “viral.” Once again, I offer this warning; when you write about health information (or any information for that matter) on ANY site on the Internet, it is equivalent to shouting it to the world through a loud speaker and posting in the public square.
The rule of thumb that derives from this is:
NEVER POST ANY IDENTIFIABLE INFORMATION ABOUT YOURSELF OR ANYONE ELSE, THAT YOU DO NOT ACTUALLY WANT EVERYONE IN THE WORLD TO KNOW.
An article I once read reminded those of us who practiced Medicine that we are all patients, but some of us are privileged to be physicians also. What is it like to become a new patient in a new healthcare “system,” after years of not having to?
Recently I changed my health insurance and made sure to sign up for additional coverage such as vision. My plan says I am entitled to a basic eye exam, a contact lens exam, and either contact lenses (which I’ve worn most of my life) or glasses. I made an appointment with an optometrist that was listed on my plan, G,B., OD, who works with a Bala Cynwyd, PA Ophthalmology practice. I explained my situation and was given an appointment, only to be told by the receptionist when I arrived that their office accepted my insurance for a “basic exam” only, and the rest would be out of pocket. This was never explained to me when I first called, nor was the ability to “cherry pick” the types of examinations covered explained in my insurance benefits information.
This seems to me to be the healthcare equivalent of “bait & switch;” the equivalent of my telling a new patient that I accept their insurance, but when they arrive with chest pain, explaining that I only accept it for checking their blood pressure, but not for an ECG. They got me into their office by not telling me they only accepted part of my insurance, then (I suppose) expected me to simply pay, out of pocket, for services I was supposed to be covered for.
Health care has obviously now become “Caveat Emptor” so, when you make your first appointment with a new physician or other “provider,” be sure to ask about the specific things you need before you go. Otherwise, you may wait for the appointment, wait in the “waiting room” and fill out your “paperwork,” just to find out that the doctor is listed as “in network” but is allowed to choose not to accept those things for which he or she can make more money “out of pocket.” GOOD LUCK!
Seventeen states, and the District of Columbia allow “Medical Marijuana;” now Colorado and Washington have gone the rest of the way and done, by popular referendum, what their politicians have been afraid to do – legalize marijuana for recreational use. The “’60s counterculture” has seemingly begun to win the battle; but what about the “war?”
Despite the changes in state laws, the DEA has kept Marijuana a schedule 1 drug, and thus illegal under federal law. “So,” you ask? The first thing you learn in law school (or a civics class for that matter) is that federal law usually trumps state law. So far, the Feds have not actively tried to shut down the marijuana dispensaries in states where they are legal, but will this be the last straw and begin a federal crackdown, or the beginning of the end for marijuana prohibition?
Regardless of your point of view on this issue, it is likely to explode soon and, most likely, since state officials cannot be mandated to enforce federal law, the federal government will have to file a lawsuit to prevent the implementation of these laws. Moreover, there is no doubt that this will reach the U.S. Supreme Court. There, we’ll find out if this is truly a conservative Court which will side with states’ rights, or a more liberal Court that will side with a centralized federal government. Any bets?
There is no question that Penn State deserves a heavy penalty for (apparently) knowingly allowing ongoing pedophilia in its coaching staff. Moreover, those who knew, like Joe Paterno, had an obligation (moral, if not legal) to inform authorities or, at a minimum, take steps to protect children involved in activities at the school. With that said, however, I have two problems with the NCAA solution.
First, vacating Penn State's wins from 1998 – 2011 simply to hurt Paterno’s record is specious at best and more likely a farce. Whatever Sandusky, Paterno & company did wrong, it did not result in those wins - hard work, pain and some blood from the student athletes did, and vacating the wins from their record creates a total disconnect between the offense and the punishment. Ultimately, the other teams lost those games, and all it will result in is an asterisk in the record books; everyone will still know who REALLY won the games. Moreover, instead of merely punishing Penn State for its actions, or lack thereof, it creates an entire class of innocent new victims - the student athletes whose records will be altered, and whose professional advancement may be forever stymied because of events which they knew nothing about, and over which they had no control.
Finally, the post season ban will mean that high quality football players who cannot transfer to another highly ranked school in time, may have their NFL hopes dashed, and potentially lose millions of dollars; thus being held responsible and paying a heavy price for the acts of others over whom they exercised no authority. It has long been understood that authority without responsibility leads to tyranny, while responsibility without authority is slavery. The NCAA needs to rethink its "knee jerk" reaction and refocus the punishment on those who deserve it, not the innocent athletes. We should strive for less crime, not more victims.