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Right and Smart To Keep Medical Records Away From This One

Comment

Dear Annie: My aunt works at the doctor's office where I am a patient. I am very private about my personal affairs, especially my health records. When I first saw this physician, I requested that my records be kept in a separate area so they could not be accessed by my aunt and would remain confidential. The receptionist assured me that would be done, saying many patients make similar requests.

Somehow this got back to my aunt, and she is creating a huge family fuss over this, telling everyone she was called in by her boss and almost got fired over it. She also said I posted derogatory information concerning this on Facebook, which is a complete lie. I am beside myself. I never said anything about her looking at my records. I only asked that they be kept separate.

How do I handle this? She is making something innocent into something ugly. Please help. — B.K.

Dear B.K.: It's a good thing your aunt doesn't have access to your records. It sounds as if she would put them all over the Internet out of spite. You have done nothing wrong and should say so. Tell your family members that you posted nothing on Facebook, nor did you make any comment to the doctor or his staff. (Although we wonder how your aunt heard about it.) Hold your head up and let her rant. As difficult as it may be, the storm will pass eventually. Your relationship with your aunt, however, may not recover. Sorry.

Dear Annie: My ex-wife and I put our 24-year-old son through college. He recently was accepted to a foreign medical school that will cost $50,000 per year for the next three years. My ex decided to remortgage her house in order to finance a year or two of this expense. I'm sure she will feel that any additional expense he incurs should fall upon me.

We shared his educational expenses up to this point, but as a retiree on a fixed income, I am not in a position to match her largesse.

This has made me feel inadequate as a provider. I took out loans to finance my own graduate education and believe it would do our son a world of good in the long run to arrange his own tuition through loans and part-time jobs.

I am thankful that my ex is able to assist our son, but it pains me to be unable to contribute equally. How can I best cope with this feeling of inadequacy? — Worried in Altadena

Dear Worried: Please don't feel inadequate because you aren't financing your child's post-graduate degree. That is his responsibility. We understand that your ex wants to make this exorbitant expense easier to bear, but no parent is under an obligation to finance their adult child's continuing education and the accompanying expenses. Remind yourself that you are teaching your son to be self-sufficient — something much more valuable to his future than borrowing from his parents.

Dear Annie: "Parents at Wits' End" said they are trying to deal with their 31-year-old bipolar son, who refuses to take his medication because it makes him feel "slow." You recommended NAMI's Family-to-Family Program.

Please suggest to these parents that they also contact Al-Anon Family Groups in their local area. This wonderful organization provides comfort and understanding to the families of alcoholics and those suffering from other addictions. Al-Anon focuses on oneself and not on the alcoholic. Meetings are held almost daily across the country and around the world. They can get more information through al-anon.alateen.org. — Nelson

Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to anniesmailbox@comcast.net, or write to: Annie's Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. To find out more about Annie's Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

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Comments

63 Comments | Post Comment
LW1: Sadly, by remaining silent your family members will assume that your aunt is right and that you are guilty of what she claims. Stand up for yourself by proclaiming your innocence. Challenge anyone who expresses doubt to find the facebook messages you allegedly posted. I would also not hesitate to tell anyone that she is an out-and-out liar. Your aunt has already declared war on you and is firing shots at you. You are under no obligation to stand there and take it just because she is an older relative. It is also likely that since you already had a suspicion of your aunt's loose lips, others would also have the same feelings. Don't worry about your aunt's feelings - - she obviously doesn't give a rat's patootie about yours.

LW2: I agree completely with the Annie's advice on this one. You are not obligated to go to the poor house to finance your son's advanced education. Do not let your ex take advantage of your feelings of inadequacy. You've already done more than enough - - the rest is up to your son.
Comment: #1
Posted by: JustWinBaby
Thu Jul 18, 2013 9:20 PM
LW2 - aren't you divorced from this person? Then why are you so involved with competing with her and reacting to what she does? Why would you care whether she thinks you should finance anything? If the expense of your son's education concerns you at all, which is arguable, this is a matter between you & your son, not you & your ex-wife. You need to let go of your relationship with this woman and learn to live according to what is important to you. By the way, it is pretty bad financial planning for retirees to borrow money to finance someone else's education. Your son has perhaps 40 years to pay his debts & finance his own retirement; you have no more years between you & your retirement.
Comment: #2
Posted by: kai archie
Thu Jul 18, 2013 9:34 PM
"When I first saw this physician, I requested that my records be kept in a separate area so they could not be accessed by my aunt " conflicts with "I never said anything about her looking at my records. " so it seems your aunt is not the only family member who has a problem with the truth. While you have a complete right to prevent your aunt from seeing your medical records, and you are probably wise to do so, the fact that you specifically asked the receptionist to keep your aunt away from your records did earn her a talking to from her boss, which is how she found out about what you said. It sounds like she didn't appreciate her boss calling her in, and you would do well to own your part in the situation. You do need to tell your family your side of it, but chances are, they know your aunt well enough to know why you did what you.
Comment: #3
Posted by: kai archie
Thu Jul 18, 2013 9:40 PM
I've got an aunt that I love dearly, but everybody in the family knows that, unless we want our personal business spread to everyone in the family, plus all her friends and fellow church members, we don't tell her anything.

I'd change doctors before I'd go to somebody she worked for.
Comment: #4
Posted by: Joannakathryn
Thu Jul 18, 2013 10:20 PM
* * * * PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT * * * *

LW3 refers to the first letter on 21 April 2013, and was also discussed on 31 May & 28 June 2013.
Comment: #5
Posted by: Miss Pasko
Thu Jul 18, 2013 10:39 PM
Kai, I think her sentence was poorly worded. What she meant was that she never accused her aunt of actually looking at her records. Her aunt may have been mistaken by the warning from her boss not to look and interpreted it as an accusation.
This girl should switch doctors. If I didn't want my family to see my records I wouldn't go to their office.

Lw2, I hope that you only have one child. If not there will be nothing left for any others. I also hope your son plans to repay his mother. There is no guarantee that he will. She may be sacrificing her security only to be left hanging later.
Comment: #6
Posted by: MT
Thu Jul 18, 2013 10:50 PM
LW1: If nothing else, her behavior proves to you that you made the right choice in asking that your records not be accessible to her. But in your shoes, I would choose another doctor rather than go to an office where such a nasty blabbermouth works. The aftermath shows you what a better idea that would have been too. If you'd done that, you wouldn't have to deal with this drama and nonsense.

Of course, you know your aunt. She may have spread this kind of bile no matter what you would have done if there was any way for her to take your choice personally.
Comment: #7
Posted by: LouisaFinnell
Thu Jul 18, 2013 11:34 PM
LW1--I would first like to point out that you could have avoided this entire mess by simply choosing a different physician than one whose office happens to be where your nosy, difficult aunt works. Failing that, you need to go on the offensive to shut this windbag down. Inform your aunt and anyone else who should pass comment on the subject that your medical records are indeed private and confidential. That privacy by the way is guaranteed and protected by law. Your aunt isn't a physician and therefore she has not right whatsoever to the content of your medical files. That she was offended by being specifically barred access and then went on a subsequent negative ad campaign against you shows her to be exactly the type of person who should not have access to confidential information about anybody for any reason. Why you're "beside yourself" over this woman is beyond me. After exposing her true colors I would have had to say good riddance.

LW2--Please everyone stop, stop stop perpetuating this idea that parents owe their children a full college education!!! No, it's simply not true. Once your son reached the age of 18 years old, your financial obligation to him ended. Period! That you and your ex-wife were able to finance his undergraduate degree was a very nice and generous gift. I hope your son appreciates the magnitude of that. You are under no obligation whatsoever to jeopardize your own financial security or your future by financing your son's expensive graduate degree too. I put myself through undergraduate and graduate schools because I knew from a very young age that my parents could not possibly afford to contribute to my college education. My father was a blue-collar factory worker; my mother a homemaker and there were seven children in my family. It wasn't rocket science. I studied, earned straight A's and then won several scholarships. I took out student loans for any additional expenses. My parents, predictably didn't pay one red cent. After I graduated, I budgeted and paid the loans off over several years. It was not a big hardship. If your son is as smart as you portray him to be, and he's attending medical school no less, I think he can manage a student loan payment.
Comment: #8
Posted by: Chris
Fri Jul 19, 2013 2:46 AM
LW1 - I agree with Chris, and wonder why on earth the LW chose this particular doctor knowing that the nosy aunt worked there. In any event, the LW was correct to request that his/her medical records be kept confidential, since this aunt sounds like she definitely would have broadcast everything to the entire family and others. I'm sure the other family members know what she is like and aren't paying much attention to her rantings, but if the LW is that concerned he/she should definitely tell anyone who mentions the situation that the aunt is a liar and that he/she did not post anything on Facebook about her. After that, let her rant and rave all she wants. The LW will probably not have a future relationship with this aunt, but I say good riddance.
Comment: #9
Posted by: Kitty
Fri Jul 19, 2013 3:18 AM
LW1 - I'm surprised they didn't tell you that's already a policy of their's that an office member is not allowed to look at medical records of those they know. I've had a few friends who've worked in doctor's offices, whether it be a nurse or a receptionist, and their office policies were always the same - you are not allowed to even touch a person's file if you know them. And "know them" doesn't have to be family. It could be your next door neighbor. If a doctor needed a file for someone my friend knew, someone else had to retrieve it. They literally couldn't even touch it.

I'm betting that someone blabbed. But it's also possible that the doctor said something like, "Just a reminder that nobody is to look at the records of a family member and if you do, it will result in your termination," and she concluded that you tattled on her. I've known people like that. Either way, go to a different doctor. It's not worth the drama.
As for your aunt, ignore her and let her stew. She's being a drama queen over nothing. She may come around one day, she may not.

LW2 - Do not bankrupt yourself for your son's education. It was very nice of you to pay for his college but that doesn't mean you have to pay for his medical school, too. If your ex-wife wants to, that's her business. Try not to feel guilty. But if it will help, send your son care packages while he's away at school. Even simple things like favorite snack foods and toiletry items are a great surprise when you're at college.
Comment: #10
Posted by: Michelle
Fri Jul 19, 2013 3:59 AM
Re: Joannakathryn - "I've got an aunt that I love dearly, but everybody in the family knows that, unless we want our personal business spread to everyone in the family, plus all her friends and fellow church members, we don't tell her anything."

I have a cousin like that. I love her dearly. But she is a blabbermouth! I learned a long time ago not to tell her anything that's private. Before I say something to her, I ask myself this, "Would you be okay with this on the front page of the news?" If the answer is no, then I don't tell her.
Comment: #11
Posted by: Michelle
Fri Jul 19, 2013 4:01 AM
It's possible that LW1 lives in a very small town and doesn't have the option of changing doctors. I do wonder why she specifically asked that her aunt not get to see her medical records. Does the aunt have a history of blabbing about the people who come into the clinic every day? If not, it was probably not necessary to make this request and she may have humiliated the aunt by doing so.
Comment: #12
Posted by: Seabeast2
Fri Jul 19, 2013 4:40 AM
I have a different take on LW1. I agree that BK contradicted herself (I'll assume it's female for brevity) by first saying she specifically referred to her aunt by name when asking that her records be kept separate, making it sound like her aunt was a nosy person who couldn't be trusted with patient confidentiality--a huge shortcoming in the healthcare field and definitely a fireable offence. We are talking about her livelihood and her reputation here. BK could have simply asked her file be kept separate, period, without mentioning her aunt by name. Frankly, I would be pissed off too, if a relative of mine went to my employer and made a request like this mentioning me personally, implying my own family doesn't even trust me, in a field where confidentiality is paramount. I'm also not sure why she wouldn't speak directly to the doctor about this, instead of the receptionist.
.
Either way, it appears, like telephone tag, that the receptionist gave a negative or exaggerated story when she delivered this message to the doctor, causing him/her to give the aunt a stern warning. Or, the aunt was caught looking for the records and/or asking where they were when they couldn't be found in the usual place, the receptionist alerted the doctor, and hence the stern warning. But to give the aunt the benefit of the doubt, I would assume this is more about the receptionist embellishing the message to the doctor, and the aunt being rightfully upset at being called to the carpet with her boss for what now amounts to be malicious gossip, thanks to the receptionist. The facebook message also sounds like a misunderstanding or something the receptionist or doctor said, because certainly it would be too easy to prove or disapprove if a message had been posted there. Why make up a lie that would so easily disputed? Even if the post was later removed, dozens of people would have seen it.
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At the very least, I would go back to meet with both the receptionist and the doctor together and explain that there has been a misunderstanding, that her aunt is a trustworthy person (NOWHERE does it say the aunt is nosy) and that she is very sorry and disappointed that a simple request has been so misconstrued. Then see what they say.
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And in the meantime, try to figure out--if you're such a private person--why you would pick the doctor where your aunt worked in the first place. Surely he or she isn't the only game in town.
Comment: #13
Posted by: Jane
Fri Jul 19, 2013 4:58 AM
Seabeast, if the LW lives in a town that is so small there is only one doctor, then he/she needn't worry about privacy--everyone will know her business anyway. But she said, "when I first say this physician" implying she was a new patient--and surely she had another doctor before this. And surely if this was the only doctor for the entire population, she would have mentioned it.
Comment: #14
Posted by: Jane
Fri Jul 19, 2013 5:06 AM
LW: With all the press about the rising cost of undergraduate education, I can't believe anyone would expect parents to pay for graduate tuition. Every financial expert I've ever read recommends securing your own retirement well before paying even for college for your kids.

I am going to say, though, that this need not be an all-or-nothing proposition. Nor is it a competition with your ex-wife.

When you mention that you are retired and say, "I took out loans to finance my own graduate education and believe it would do our son a world of good in the long run to arrange his own tuition through loans and part-time jobs" you were not looking at graduating with tuition loans of $50K to $100K! If you can spare ANYTHING toward reducing that amount, it should be much appreciated by your son if you phrase it this way:

"Son, I am so proud of you for pursuing this goal. Not everyone has the smarts and drive for a career in medicine, but I've always known you had it in you to become whatever you want to be. I know med school is expensive, and that part-time jobs aren't going to do much to pay for it. I very much wish I could take this financial burden off of you, but even more than that, I don't want to be a burden on you just as you're getting started in your career and maybe thinking of having a family and buying a house. So I'm going to give you only $[amount]. That's not a reflection of how proud I am of you or how much I want this for you -- it's a recognition that one of the best things I can do for you is to stretch my money now so I don't have to come live with you later. "
Comment: #15
Posted by: hedgehog
Fri Jul 19, 2013 5:09 AM
LW1 -
The woman sounds mentally ill and I wouldn't trust her not to find a way to access your records even if they WERE stored separately. And speaking of which... a lot of people will tell you anything just to get you off their back and it's not necessarily true. There is a LOT of bullshitting around, especially in anything related to customer service.

Why would the receptionist tell you a lot of people "make similar requests" when you asked that your records be kept separate from everyone else's? That was a special request, because you know your aunt works there. How many other patients have a relative working in the office? I doubt they have a separate and locked cabinet for each of their patients "making similar requests". Something here is not right.

How your aunt heard about this is what I'm worried about, and what other information she has access to in spite of what you were told. I think the receptionist was just telling you what you wanted to hear, and then straight away ran to your aunt with what would have been a choice tidbit of office gossip. I'm far from certain she honoured this.

Do set the record straight every time you hear calumnies in your family, because lies that are never refuted end up being believed. It's the old "But she never denied it" type of thing, and this is one of the cases where taking to the high road and rising above the fray doesn't pay.

But first and foremost, find another doctor ASAP and have your records permanently transferred. Your confidentiality is not safe in that place.

LW2 -
Talk to both your son and your wife separately and tell them what you have told the Annies exactly. He is of age now. I expect you are a relatively recent retiree, and so your financial situation has changed since he started studying. You don't have to put yourself in the poorhouse making commitments you can no longer afford. It's all very nice that your ex is still in a position to help him, but he's supposed to learn how to stand on his own two feet, same as you did.

As for your feelings of inadequacy, for the Annies to tell you "please don't feel inadequate" is useless. If you could turn off the switch, you would. But feelings are not something you can control having or not, you can only control what you do about them. This is something you will have to work out on your own, as your present level of income is not something you can control either.

However, acknowledging that you have them is half the battle, so I trust you can find a way to deal with this.

LW3 -
If someone can explain to me why this is relevant, I'm all ears. Yes indeed, all these wonderful A-whatever organizations "provide comfort and understanding to the families of alcoholics and those suffering from other addictions", but what's that got to do with a bipolar individual refusing to take his meds? He doesn't need a 12-step program to get OFF something, he needs to realise he needs to get ON something!

---------------------------------------------------------------------

@Joannakathryn & Michelle
My friend Shirley is like that. She's got the biggest mouth on the planet Earth, just don't tell her anything you don't want her to announce to the whole city with a megaphone. Thank God she isn't on the Internet! Not only she'd be a Facebook menace, but she'd fall prey to a Nigerian scam in a minute. It's bad enough that everything spewed out by the idiot box is God's Word out of the Burning Bush as far as she's concerned, she'd be like the floozie-with-the-"French model" in the ad (But they can't put anything on the Internet if it's not true").

Comment: #16
Posted by: Lise Brouillette
Fri Jul 19, 2013 5:32 AM
I usually don't comment but I don't see why the aunt is viewed as a blabber mouth? The LW never insinuates that the aunt is a gossip all that is said is "I am very private about my personal affairs, especially my health records. When I first saw this physician, I requested that my records be kept in a separate area so they could not be accessed by my aunt and would remain confidential." If this is true I don't understand why the LW did not go to another doctor.
In my experience most people embelish their stories a little bit and my guess is both the aunt and LW are doing this. I don't believe the aunt told everyone maybe she told her parents (who would be the LWs grandparents). It doesn't take much for those who have been told to spread the word. Venting one's fustrations to their parents or a sibling does not make them a blabber mouth in my book who else is the aunt going to vent to if not her own family. It just sucks b/c the LW is a part of that family and lets be honest all familes spread gossip. The aunt would not need to tell a lot of people in order for word to get around.
Though the LW was trying to maintain his/her privacy did the LW consider that by making the request it implied that the aunt would do such a thing? That could be how the receptionist took it and why the aunt was given a lecture (if at all). After all as other commenters have stated it is common practice in most fields that employees are not allowed to handle the files or cases of people they know. I am actually surprised that the receptionist did not state this fact to the LW. The aunt was probably angered at the fact that someone would think she would breach this code of conduct, especially if she takes her job seriously and knows the rules.
Really we cannot assume anything about the aunts side because you have to take the other human elements into play i.e. the family (did they spread the news), the receptionist (did she assume since the request was made that the aunt would do such a thing after all a family member would know the aunt better than her coworkers), how did the doctor react to this request?
Regardless I don't doubt that the aunt was angry when told she probably felt like it was an insult. If it had been me I would have been annoyed to and angered that someone would think I would be unethical in my job. Then 15 minutes later I would have moved on.
Comment: #17
Posted by: NDI
Fri Jul 19, 2013 5:37 AM
Re: Jane #13
"(NOWHERE does it say the aunt is nosy)"
Does it have to be said in so many words? Just the fact that she LW specifically wants her aunt away from her records speaks volumes imho. If the aunt was so trustworthy, then she would trust her to be a professional, now wouldn't she? And she doesn't. And whether or not this is a misunderstanding, if the aunt's reaction is to conduct a smear campaign and spread lies, it doesn't make her look like the LW was wrong to mistrust her, does it?




Comment: #18
Posted by: Lise Brouillette
Fri Jul 19, 2013 5:40 AM
LW1: I agree with Seabeast2 insofar as this being a small town where the choice of physician is limited. Also was thinking: it could be she's changing doctors because her previous one left/retired/died, or that due to various circumstances with work/insurance, this was the one that she was directed to see (and not all options of "choice of physician") are in play here.

In any case, I don't think it even specifically states that the request to "keep the records separate" was made in the presence of the aunt. It could have been she made a written request by checking a box on a form, signed it and gave it to another office clerk ... the aunt recognized it and fumed.

As far as the doctor possibly reminding the aunt of their sworn duty and oath to keep records confidential ... it could have been in a group meeting (all staff meeting) and no specific mention made of the clerk's niece or anyone for that matter, and the aunt jumped to a conclusion.

I also have to wonder a few things about the aunt: Is she someone who has been untrustworthy with "confidential" secrets? Or even more likely, does she view her niece not as a mature adult who most likely has a career and a family ... but as the 12 year old who still needs direction and has few of the same rights as an adult. Could also be a situation where the HIPPA laws are in her mind an impediment for her to spread gossip about people during a night out at the bar or at the family reunion. Who knows?

So what to do? Just what many on BTL have stated -- put your foot down and tell the aunt flat out (privately, when she's not at work) that you expect her to keep her nose out of your business, and that if you hear that your privacy has been invaded you'll tell her boss. There is no reason why this Mrs. Olesen should be allowed to spread gossip about you, but unfortunately HIPPA is no 100 percent guarantee that it won't happen.
Comment: #19
Posted by: Bobaloo
Fri Jul 19, 2013 5:49 AM
One addendum to my reply to LW1, and in response to the suggestions to find another doctor -- while this is certainly an option, you DO NOT HAVE TO BE BULLIED BY YOUR AUNT who obviously thinks of you as that 12-year-old (who, for all I know probably you viewed at that time as "her f-a-a-a-a-a-vorite aunt") and not an adult. You chose your doctor for a reason, most likely because your previous physician recommended him or the new doctor is taking over for the older guy.

In any case if this continues talk to the doctor ... and it might not be a good idea to get his manager and/or higher-level administrator involved to nip this in the bud. With any luck, the aunt will scream and rant about how the LW is an ungrateful bitch and so forth, tell the world "f-you" and quit. Good. And let her think that of the LW, who's just protecting her rights and privacy.
Comment: #20
Posted by: Bobaloo
Fri Jul 19, 2013 5:56 AM
Re LW#1----
Jane mentioned a lot of good possibilties as to how and why the aunt knew that her niece requested her records be kept private from her. Could indeed be something that came from the receptionist-------or even the doctor-----but it could also be that the reason she got a good chewing out was because she tried to look up those records, couldn't find them in the usual place, went snooping and got caught. OR-----she may never have been chewed out at all but was angry that she couldn't see the records and made up the part about being almost fired. It sounds like she has no problem embellishing or inventing things, as the Facebook thing shows.
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I once did business with a bank (investments, etc.) where my sister-in-law later went to work. I had absolutely no reason to believe she would look at my financial situation and share it with others------but I did transfer my business, because I felt strongly that my financial situation was not my family's business, even though I could probably have made the same request. Did the same thing at another bank where my sister later went to work. (Small town here.) It's just easier to leave nothing to chance. Nothing got mentioned to them that would have caused hurt feelings, because I never gave their being there as a reason. And I love both of them, I just like to keep my private business private from my relatives.
.
In this case, since the aunt was already working there, I too think it would have been easier for the LW to go somewhere else, if she could, instead of coming in and then making a request that could get back to her aunt and cause hard feelings. Only if there were no other choices at all would I put myself in that situation.
Comment: #21
Posted by: jennylee
Fri Jul 19, 2013 6:11 AM
Re: kai #3

I don't think you understood that statement as it was intended.

"When I first saw this physician, I requested that my records be kept in a separate area so they could not be accessed by my aunt" >> This means she went to the doc and said "Can you keep my file in a separate area? My aunt works here and I'd like to keep my information private."

"I never said anything about her looking at my records." >> This means that LW1 never told anyone on FB or otherwise that her aunt had looked at her records.

Now, it is possible that the doctor interpreted the first statement to mean that she thought her aunt was nosy, but I don't think that that was LW1's intention.

LW1 - Those of your chastizing her for going to that doctor, well. What if she lives in a small town? What if she chose this doctor for a particular reason? What if it's just close and convenient? Maybe it's her husband's doctor's office, too. Who cares? I mean, how was she supposed to know that asking to keep her records private would blow up like this? It's really easy to look back and go "duh what were you thinking" but if I went to a doctor where someone I knew worked and mentioned that I'd like to keep my records separate I would NEVER expect it to turn into the nonsense LW1 is describing.

LW2 - "Remind yourself that you are teaching your son to be self-sufficient — something much more valuable to his future than borrowing from his parents."

This is so true - I really like that! If your son finishes school he will eventually make enough money to pay off student loans. In the meantime, what you can do to help out is send him gift cards or whatever for a store near where he lives. You know, $20 here, $50 there - whatever you can and want to afford. So he can get shampoo etc. My mom has always been poor and she gets me the weirdest things for Christmas (like shampoo, lapbalm) but when I need it I am REALLY glad to have it. It's the little things, you know.
Comment: #22
Posted by: Zoe
Fri Jul 19, 2013 6:15 AM
Sadly, most divorce settlement agreements drawn up over the past 40 years or so have included specific agreements concerning the financing of a college education or other specialized training. In my granddaughter's case, her parents handled their own divorce papers and made no provision for her after she reached 18. In the case of my self-employed handyman, however, not only did he have to put 3 kids through college - and God only knows I don't see how he did it! - his ex took him back to court to try to force him to pay for grad school for the 25 year old. Guess it depends on how good a divorce lawyer you have whether you do or don't have to support a kid through college.
Comment: #23
Posted by: graham072442
Fri Jul 19, 2013 6:26 AM
Re: jennylee (#21)

"In this case, since the aunt was already working there, I too think it would have been easier for the LW to go somewhere else, if she could, instead of coming in and then making a request that could get back to her aunt and cause hard feelings. Only if there were no other choices at all would I put myself in that situation."

Could be, or it could be that the LW is exercising HER right for choice of physician and is NOT going to be bullied by someone who still thinks of her as the niece that idolized her years ago and that she taught in Sunday school or coached on the soccer team that went winless because of her incompetent coaching and micromanaging.

In the aunt's eyes, it's "family business" and she automatically has a right by birth and by blood to "know" everything there is to know about her family, and that HIPPA is not a means of discouraging her but an impediment to her nosiness. How sadly mistaken she is if she indeed has this attitude. Very likely, given her behavior and how she went off ... and that it was merely "tolerated" until now the LW is putting her foot down.

Seriously, if the aunt is that desperate to know, I see her staging a brutally bloody armed robbery to "demand" and get the records and then they do get stolen and published on the internet for all to see. I really can. That's just how someone like Mrs. Olesen the office receptionist works ... she wants power over the niece and to hell with respecting her privacy, because the niece is no longer a 12-year-old.

The more I think of this, the more I think this is a power play on the aunt's part.
Comment: #24
Posted by: Bobaloo
Fri Jul 19, 2013 6:50 AM
Lise, I think the relevance of Al-anon for the family of the 31-year-old son is that it helps THEM to understand where their involvement begins and ends. The message of Al-anon, in a nutshell, is that you're not responsible for what the alcoholic does. And for some people, it takes a long time to get that message because addicts of all types and their enablers just naturally seem to find each other.

A 31 year old man who chooses not to take the medicine that will help him is responsible for that choice - not his parents. But parents often just naturally fret and wring their hands and want to "help." That's where the "-anon" programs are really useful. You have to let adults experience the consequences of their own choices. (Al-anon is not a 12 step program - AA is.)
Comment: #25
Posted by: Maggie Lawrence
Fri Jul 19, 2013 6:54 AM
Seriously, Bobaloo? Is that where your fantasy world comes from - - all those TV shows you watch? Re: "Seriously, if the aunt is that desperate to know, I see her staging a brutally bloody armed robbery to "demand" and get the records and then they do get stolen and published on the internet for all to see. I really can. That's just how someone like Mrs. Olesen the office receptionist works ...."

Do you even see how bizarre that sounds - on this planet, anyway?
Comment: #26
Posted by: Maggie Lawrence
Fri Jul 19, 2013 7:00 AM
I see few different sides of the story of LW1.

I work in the health field where it is indeed paramount about patient confidenitality. Every so often I have to sign document saying that what I see, hear, read, etc does not go any further than what is needed for my job. To access family members' record no matter what is grounds for dismissal.

1) the aunt is indeed as Bobaloo desribed post #24 as its "family business" so the LW has every right to be anxious. I know someone like that (doesn't come close to working in the health field thankfully). But that would make any patient nervous.

2) the recepionist mishandled the info from the patient resulting in lecture to the aunt. If I was the aunt I would be embarressed and angry to be lectured with the touch of fear of losing my job. As to how she found out it was her niece it could be the receptionist told her or the doctor. Or she put two and two together to equal niece. But she shouldn't be saying lies about her niece like positng on FB regardless.

3) I do wonder if LW said (not outright in her letter here) that she wanted that done to her records and then said why without thinking about it. That may result in investigation of the aunt and stern lecture to the aunt as well.

I do see both sides of this and how it may have been mishandled by both niece and aunt.
Comment: #27
Posted by: Kath
Fri Jul 19, 2013 7:11 AM
Seabeast, if the LW lives in a town that is so small there is only one doctor, then he/she needn't worry about privacy--everyone will know her business anyway. But she said, "when I first say this physician" implying she was a new patient--and surely she had another doctor before this. And surely if this was the only doctor for the entire population, she would have mentioned it.
******
That doctor she'd seen before MIGHT have been her pediatrician. Or it might have been the doctor who referred her to this specialist, the only one in town.


Also, from your earlier post, how can you request that records be kept "separate" without mentioning someone by name? Doctors aren't the only ones who have access to the file -- support staff is usually responsible for pulling the hard files, following through on payment/insurance, updating with test results that are sent to the office, etc. That's what they're for, and if you say "I want my records kept separately" you have to designated who does NOT have access.

Comment: #28
Posted by: hedgehog
Fri Jul 19, 2013 7:11 AM
Re: Kath

I don't doubt for a moment that LW1 said she wanted her records separate because her aunt worked there. She had to say who had to be restricted from accessing her file because the other workers there need access to it.

It is also possible that there was a miscommunication along the way but unless LW1 is flat out lying it's clear that the aunt has a penchant for exaggeration. Even if she was lectured through no fault of her own, wouldn't a reasonable person try to dig a little and find out what happened before vilifying a family member?
Comment: #29
Posted by: Zoe
Fri Jul 19, 2013 7:20 AM
Re: hedgehog #28

Well said. Frankly, I am a little surprised by the people ragging on LW1 for going to that doctor. I've lived in a small town and what she describes is not unknown. Certain employees at a doctor's office just don't have access to the files of their relatives or others who may know them. It's not unusual and for most people it's not worth changing doctors, even if there are a plethora of them in town.

I firmly believe in personal responsibility (such as locking your door so people don't steal your stuff, and not traipsing around Creepy Rapist Alley naked and drunk) but this is going a little far even for me. You should be able to see the doctor you want to see without worrying about your aunt freaking out because you don't want her to see the results of your STD test.
Comment: #30
Posted by: Zoe
Fri Jul 19, 2013 7:25 AM
I am so tired of everyone smugly saying my parents didn't pay for my college education I paid for it myself by working part-time jobs and taking out student loans. Many students cannot get student loans because their parents make too much money, So it is the federal government who expects parents to pay for their children's education.

Don't get me wrong, I did pay for school. It wasn't easy. I had to wait till I was older because I didn't have student loans available. This put me at a severe disadvantage.

Do not give yourself too much credit when the government was helping you.

Comment: #31
Posted by: jennifer
Fri Jul 19, 2013 7:31 AM
Re: Bobaloo #24
I don't think I said she didn't have a right to go to whatever doctor she wanted to, I think I said it would have been EASIER if she'd stayed away from where her aunt worked if she didn't want the possibility of her seeing the files.
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About the rest of your post-----WOW!!! I missed all the parts about where the niece used to idolize this aunt, who taught Sunday school and coached the soccer team (incompetently at that), and who believes she 'automatically has a right by birth and blood to know everything there is to know about her family'. (Although you did say IF she indeed has this attitude, regarding that last part.) Yup, I expect this all took place because "she wants power over the niece and to hell with respecting her privacy".
.
OR-----could just be that the niece is a private person and even if her aunt is NOT a big malevolent gossip, she didn't want anyone in her family, including her aunt, to know her private medical business. She really didn't mention anything about her aunt being a gossip, at least not in the letter I read. She just said she felt her medical info should be private from her family. The only thing she really said about her aunt was that, after the fact, she got accused of putting stuff on Facebook and that she didn't do that.
.
You saw an awful lot of stuff in that letter that isn't there, I think.
Comment: #32
Posted by: jennylee
Fri Jul 19, 2013 8:06 AM
Re: jennylee

I think that Bobaloo sees a LOT of things that aren't there.
Comment: #33
Posted by: Zoe
Fri Jul 19, 2013 8:25 AM
@ Jennifer Re: #31

Before you decide to take a snide jab and go on a rant you might wish to educate yourself first. Anyone can take out student loans. Typically it's grants or subsidized loans that take a parents' income into consideration. A student simply needs to be emancipated from his or her parents to remove the parents' income from the picture. After that, they stand on their own meaning they will likely qualify for more aid. I always thought those sorts of rules were absurd because a parent can't be forced to pay for a college education.

Second of all, in spite of your implication to the contrary, no government helped me. I didn't emancipate myself from my parents because I lived at home to save money on dorm fees. To supplement my scholarships, I was loaned X amount and I repaid X amount plus interest after graduation. I also worked near full time while still managing to graduate with honors. Yes it was hard work but isn't that the point of life sometimes? You work hard and savor the fruits of your labor. It's a little bitter when everything is handed to you by someone else.
Comment: #34
Posted by: Chris
Fri Jul 19, 2013 9:23 AM
Re Chris: "Once your son reached the age of 18 years old, your financial obligation to him ended. Period!"

How I wish that were true. In Minnesota divorce decrees often say how much is parent is REQUIRED to contribute of their children's college education. If their had been no divorce, neither would be required to finance any of it. I don't have kids and am not divorces, but I still this this sucks.
Comment: #35
Posted by: C Meier
Fri Jul 19, 2013 9:53 AM
Re: L1
I find it very hard to believe that an employee who normally has access to patient records can be successfully kept away from a patient's records over the long term if they are determined to look at them. I can't even imagine why LW1 would even go to that doctor if this was a concern unless as has been stated BTL s/he lives in a very small town or is in dire need of this particular physician (specialist). If it is the small town or specialist scenario s/he might as well just give up on the privacy issue as a practical matter.

Re: LW2
Simply tell your ex what you put in your letter "I took out loans to finance my own graduate education and believe it would do our son a world of good in the long run to arrange his own tuition through loans and part-time jobs." and don't mention your financial situation. What's she going to do anyway, divorce you? No matter what she says, try not to allow her to make you feel inadequate. Remember you control how you feel about yourself, no matter what anyone says to or about you. If you do wind up feeling terrible after speaking to her, rejoice in the fact that you rarely have to deal with her anymore (I hope) anymore and that should cheer you up considerably.

This foreign medical school could (maybe) be an iffy prospect from what I've read and heard. Your ex might wind up in a tough position financially if she expects your son to repay her and his inability to get a U.S., U.K. or other valued medical degree affects his job prospects, not to mention if he is a sub-par med student being bailed out by parental funds and what that says about his work and family ethic. Not saying that's the case, but it is certainly a possibility as your letter never mentions that it is a prestigious school, etc., and a better foreign school would likely cost more than 50k a year....
Comment: #36
Posted by: EstherGreenwood
Fri Jul 19, 2013 10:06 AM
I have heard that is true, but was told that I needed to stay out of school for a year and live on my own to qualify. When I applied for loans, since my income was so low, I did not qualify for a bank loan wothout parental signature. I was still blocked from government sponsored student loans because of my student loans. They did not believe that my patents refused to help me. You must be a better perso than I am. I was not allowed to live at home and it took all of my income to pay rent, electricity, etc. to support myself without a college education. I read that you qualified for loans and had electricity and rent provided by your parents because they allowed you to stay in their home. Oh well. I worked 3 jobs and put my husband through school with no loans. Then he put me through school.
Comment: #37
Posted by: jennifer
Fri Jul 19, 2013 10:13 AM
Re: EstherGreenwood

"I find it very hard to believe that an employee who normally has access to patient records can be successfully kept away from a patient's records over the long term if they are determined to look at them."

That's not the point of it. When a patient is ushered into a doctor's office, one of the workers there will take that person's file and bring it to the office. They may also check the file to see if a test result has come in, update contact information, etc. Through the course of a normal day one of these workers may see loads of personal medical information, not because they are "determined" but because it's part of their job. If you worked at a doctor's office and your niece was a patient there, you could easily end up seeing her personal medical history, test results, concerns, prescriptions etc. and some people do not want to share this information with people they know (unless it is on their terms).
Comment: #38
Posted by: Zoe
Fri Jul 19, 2013 10:14 AM
Re: Zoe
What I was trying to say is that even if the niece doesn't want the information shared and specifies that it is kept confidential, anyone with access to patient records could probably find a way to access it regardless. I doubt the ability of a medical office to successfully keep an employee who has access privileges (and knows others with the same type of or greater access) out of someone's records over the long term.
Comment: #39
Posted by: EstherGreenwood
Fri Jul 19, 2013 10:23 AM
I mis-wrote. I went back after supporting myself for years, but was still turned down for student loans due to my parents income.

"It just didn't make sense that they would not help me." Is what I was told.
Comment: #40
Posted by: jennifer
Fri Jul 19, 2013 10:35 AM
Re: EstherGreenwood

I understand what you are saying, but I don't think you understand what I'm saying.

I don't think that LW1 thought that her aunt wanted to see her records. There is no indication that the aunt wanted to see the records (to snoop or be nosy). But the aunt could see her medical information as part of her job if the records are not flagged or kept in a separate area that would tell the aunt "hey don't look in here" before she even noticed whose file she was holding.

It's kind of like, I don't want you to see me naked, Esther, so I'm going to ask you to turn your back to me while I change. I'm not going to ask you to leave the room and lock the door or pull the curtains because I'm not worried you're going to try to sneak at a peak, but I'm also not going to start stripping down right in front of you so that you see me naked because I'm standing naked directly in front of your eyes and you'll have to choice but to see me naked for at least a second or two before you realize and turn away, or keep looking because you don't know that I don't want you to.

Does that make sense?
Comment: #41
Posted by: Zoe
Fri Jul 19, 2013 10:48 AM
Sorry, I still don't buy it for a minute that this is about the aunt at all. The doctor and the receptionist have acted pretty unprofessionally, and they either screwed up or got completely different mixed messages about this whole situation. THEY are ones who have breached patient confidentiality and caused a problem here, not the aunt, and the LW needs to go into the office and demand an explanation of how a simple and common request seems to have been so misconstrued, and set the record straight that her request was not an indication of her aunt's professional integrity. The LW needs to know WHAT the receptionist said to the doctor, and WHAT the doctor said to her aunt. If the aunt is embellishing, the LW will then know it. But it's equally possible that the aunt was told an entirely different story, including something about facebook, that maybe she DID almost get fired for a miscommunication or misunderstanding, and this is, after all, not a small thing but a threat to her entire career and livelihood. The LW at least owes her aunt a trip to her employer to ask what happened, rather than simply walking away, and I'm surprised the Annies didn't suggest it.
.
There was someone who corrected me that you really would have to give the aunt's name, and that's true now that I think about it, but it's certainly a common request, and the LW needs to investigate further.
.
And Lise, re: Re: Jane #13
"(NOWHERE does it say the aunt is nosy)" Does it have to be said in so many words? Just the fact that she LW specifically wants her aunt away from her records speaks volumes imho. If the aunt was so trustworthy, then she would trust her to be a professional, now wouldn't she? And she doesn't. And whether or not this is a misunderstanding, if the aunt's reaction is to conduct a smear campaign and spread lies, it doesn't make her look like the LW was wrong to mistrust her, does it?
.
Sorry, can't agree with you at ALL, Lise. Think that through. The aunt's level of professionalism has nothing at all to do with sitting down for Thanksgiving dinner and not wanting your mom or dad's sibling, sitting directly across from you, to know you think you have a problem with alcohol, smoked pot in high school, had three miscarriages, became sexually active at 17, had an abortion while you were away at college, caught crabs and venereal warts from your last boyfriend, that you're on anti-depressants, that you're trying to get pregnant, that you're questioning your gender or sexual identity, that they've discovered a tumor on your ovary...do I need to go on?
.
And no, everything doesn't always need to be spelled out, but there should at least be a HINT that a person has that quality before we jump to that conclusion, and there is not even a HINT that she is nosy. As I just said, asking for a relative not to see your files can be simply a matter of not wanting to open Christmas presents with someone who knows the results of your Pap smear, not an indication the aunt is a nosy blabbermouth or unprofessional in any way. The LW NEVER said the aunt was nosy or a blabbermouth, or that she had ever breached anyone's confidentiality before (for which she would have been fired, and since she still has her job, doesn't seem like that is the case.)
.
As for the smear campaign, true, she could have probably handled this better, BUT it appears a smear campaign was launched against her FIRST, and while the LW may feel uncomfortable about what the aunt is saying, it's her aunt who has her job, career and reputation on the line.
.
Bottom line, the LW needs to go to the doctor and receptionist and ask what the hell happened. Clearly she did not mean for her request to have such an inadvertent and terrible outcome for her aunt, so she needs to find out what the real deal is. Then she'll have a better idea of whether she wants to keep her relationship with her aunt or not. Right now, everyone is in the dark.
Comment: #42
Posted by: Jane
Fri Jul 19, 2013 11:22 AM
Re: Zoe
O.K. now I see what you're getting at. I guess L1 could be interpreted that way, more as an honor system type request so that the Aunt and everyone else there knows that she doesn't want the Aunt to look at her records. It could be that the Aunt had no specific interest in seeing her records in the first place and would simply run across them while performing her job.

If the LW felt that way though, I'd think she would just talk to her Aunt directly though, as well as speak to the office staff. The LW seems seems surprised that the Aunt found out and was offended by the request, which would probably not be the case if it was just a simple heads up - hey don't look at my file type of request. The LW does specify that the records be kept physically off limits to the Aunt, kept in a separate area so the Aunt will not have physical (or digital I presume) access to them and the LW appears to have an expectation that these precautions will actually work and keep her records off limits to the Aunt.

The way the Annies answered the letter leads one to believe the Aunt is untrustworthy and a gossip monger, so it would be interesting to know how the original letter was worded prior to the Annie's editing!
Comment: #43
Posted by: EstherGreenwood
Fri Jul 19, 2013 11:42 AM
Re: Jane

I agree with a lot of what you're saying but unless you think the LW is straight up lying, you're giving the aunt a pass on her CLEARLY poor behaviour (family / FB drama)

"The LW needs to know WHAT the receptionist said to the doctor, and WHAT the doctor said to her aunt."

I disagree with this, but even if I didn't, by the same token the aunt should have pursued the truth before making family drama out of this. I don't agree with it because I think the doctor has better things to do, frankly. The LW1 sounds (from what little we know) reasonable enough, and I have a hard believing that she wouldn't have discussed it openly with her aunt had she asked about it, and could have written a quick note to the doctor to clear it all up.

"If the aunt was so trustworthy, then she would trust her to be a professional, now wouldn't she?"

That's not what it's about. The workers open dozens of files every day and may not study the names before they look. It would be easy to see the personal information without realizing whose file you are looking at. Like, at work, there are certain confidential files that I do not have access to. They are kept on a different server that is not accessible by all employees. I have no desire to go look for them, but they are kept off the main server so that they are not opened by mistake or by someone who doesn't realize it's confidential, OR by someone who can't resist peaking when it's right in front of them (not with aforethought).

Re: EstherGreenwood

I don't think the aunt was untrustworthy, but I do think she took this too personally. The fact that LW1 said "somehow this got back to my aunt" does certainly indicate that she didn't want her to know about her request. Of course I'm just speculating here - but it is possible that she and her aunt aren't close and she didn't feel comfortable telling her, or she and her aunt haven't always gotten along very well and that there has been family drama in the past between these two, so LW1 wanted to do it secretly and by the time it got back to the doctor it had turned into a story of LW1 accusing her aunt of snooping.

I don't think anyone did anything gravely wrong, and certainly nothing that couldn't have been remedied with a little open communication, but it seemed to have gone way too far. I am not giving LW1 a pass either as she is probably taking part in some of the drama.

Frankly there's nothing to do here except that everyone just needs to get over it.
Comment: #44
Posted by: Zoe
Fri Jul 19, 2013 11:49 AM
Re: Zoe, jennylee, et al.:

I think my whole point seriously about the "Mrs. Olesen" comments was that it's the unknowns that scare the LW and just the fact that she COULD have access to them as part of her job duties. I mean, "What if she does read the records and study them in detail?" Might she keep them to herself? Will she tell someone? Of course, there's no way to truly know ... but there the records are, and the temptation is soooooooooooooo great to look at them, even if only to look at them and satisfy some curiosity.

Then again, the "keep them private" comment ... it could simply be that the aunt is offended that she is even thought of as a potential gossip ("Hey, I ain't no gossip!"), especially by her niece, and is not looking at this as a professional relationship and a simple request.

The point about the relationship between the LW and her aunt years ago ... that's just a sense because I bet your bottom dollar that things already are, well, tense between the two ... and between the aunt and others in the family as well. And, if anything, it's currently not as good as it was years ago when the LW was younger and not old enough to know better, and that the aunt still sees her as her tween-ish niece, not a mature adult who made a simple request to respect her privacy by not being allowed access to the records.

Zoe: Sure. Sure. Everyone that writes in is engaging in some drama. Just give her the damn pass and be done with it. She's gotten one from me.

---

All of that said, perhaps it might be a good idea for the doctor's office to review its policies in allowing office workers access to records (e.g., to make copies of certain documents for those with a "need to know," such as a doctor or biller or the patient). Even if they prove to be fine, it's not a bad idea to review them once in awhile.
Comment: #45
Posted by: Bobaloo
Fri Jul 19, 2013 12:07 PM
Re: Bobaloo

As usual, you are ready way too much into this. There are things I don't randomly want others to know. Not because of what I'm afraid of what they'll do with the information. I just don't want my uncle bill knowing about my vaginal infection.
Comment: #46
Posted by: Zoe
Fri Jul 19, 2013 12:17 PM
Re: Bobaloo again

To clarify, you could be right. I just don't think there is enough to go on to concoct such a story about it.
Comment: #47
Posted by: Zoe
Fri Jul 19, 2013 12:25 PM
I was on my own at 18 and my parents never helped with college or either of my weddings, though they easily could have. My father paid more toward my brother's (he's the baby, gotta love him!) rehearsal dinner for his second wedding than he did for either of mine. And I'd have slept in my car before I went back home to him.

That's why I was determined to help my own son with his college education for at least the first two years.

Nowadays, I don't think it's possible for a high school graduate to be able to find a job that will pay enough to enable him/her to live independently like it was for me 40+ years ago.

But do I think the LW should help his son, who already has multiple degrees, with yet another one? No, not unless he is independently wealthy. He's helped him quite enough, and there should be scholarships and grants he can apply for.

Now, my son has a degree, a good job, and a nice home. He insists that someday he's going to build a house on some land to "take care of" me and his dad. (I've got my own ideas about that, but that's another story.) As far my father, well, I don't owe him anything, so he can whistle for it.

Comment: #48
Posted by: Joannakathryn
Fri Jul 19, 2013 12:26 PM
Re: (#46 and 47)

I will agree there ... of course I wouldn't want someone I knew knowing IF I had an infection or some cancer or something else. Let's just say that would make me *really, really, really* uncomfortable.

And it's even just the "glancing" at it, if even by accident, as you're looking for the pertinent information or "just come across it." If even to make sure you've gotten the right page to copy on the copier to give to the patient, or the discard of a copy into the wastebasket (before it goes to the shredder) for a poorly-made copy ... and it goes on.

So it does go beyond the "Mrs. Olesen"-type use of this. She may say nothing and keep it to herself. She may just innocently say to the LW's mother, "B was at the doctor's today for (name of exam); wonder what's going on?" Who knows. She may never even see her niece's records in her lifetime, for any reason or even if incidental.

Bottom line: The LW simply wants 100-plus percent assurance, guarantee, etc. that the aunt NEVER can or will see her private records and, based on the reaction to the "I request my records be kept private" request, she may be thinking worst-case scenario (the Mrs. Olesen scenario).

(Finally, to clarify -- Mrs. Olesen was the town gossip from the classic TV series "Little House on the Prairie," and there was an episode ("Sylvia," from Season 7, and it does air occasionally on the rerun networks and is also on the DVD Season 7 set) where she spread private medical information about a teenaged-girl's pregnancy. She did this to malice the family she hated, the Ingalls, suggesting the girl had gotten pregnant by Albert, Charles' adopted son.)
Comment: #49
Posted by: Bobaloo
Fri Jul 19, 2013 1:52 PM
For those of you going on about the doctor's "lack of professionalism" and "LW is destroying Aunt's career!": the Aunt is LYING that LW wrote awful things about her on Facebook, so I doubt she was called in and almost fired. This woman sounds like a hysteric. And frankly, she sounds like the type to blurt out, "I'm so sorry about your miscarriage" at the Thanksgiving table.

For the record, health-care professionals take HIPAA (not HIPPA) very seriously. It's sort of a FEDERAL law. So, YES, I imagine that the office has heard a LOT of requests like LW1 made.

I knew several doctors through my doctor uncle and my laboratory technician mom; that's how I FOUND some of them. And yes, before HIPAA was common, one of the blabby women in the GysOb's office asked my mother how my biopsy went. (They used to work together). It was NOT a nice day.

I'll bet that she tried to get to LW's records, found out she couldn't, and got angry. "How DARE LW think I would snoop in his/her records!"
Comment: #50
Posted by: JMM
Fri Jul 19, 2013 3:26 PM
For those of you going on about the doctor's "lack of professionalism" and "LW is destroying Aunt's career!": the Aunt is LYING that LW wrote awful things about her on Facebook, so I doubt she was called in and almost fired. This woman sounds like a hysteric. And frankly, she sounds like the type to blurt out, "I'm so sorry about your miscarriage" at the Thanksgiving table.

For the record, health-care professionals take HIPAA (not HIPPA) very seriously. It's sort of a FEDERAL law. So, YES, I imagine that the office has heard a LOT of requests like LW1 made.

I knew several doctors through my doctor uncle and my laboratory technician mom; that's how I FOUND some of them. And yes, before HIPAA was common, one of the blabby women in the GysOb's office asked my mother how my biopsy went. (They used to work together). It was NOT a nice day.

I'll bet that she tried to get to LW's records, found out she couldn't, and got angry. "How DARE LW think I would snoop in his/her records!"
Comment: #51
Posted by: JMM
Fri Jul 19, 2013 3:26 PM
LW2- Under no circumstances do I think you should contribute further towards your sons education... especially if it will affect your financial retirement but to those who say that the student should get a student loan... that's not always possible. When my daughter was 19, she was living on her own and supporting herself fully so she tried for a student loan but they denied her because we (her parents) made too much money. They told her it did not matter that she was supporting herself on a small wage until she was 24. We ended up working out a payment plan but the plan was not doable for most people as it was over $500 a month so as far as we were concerned, they did take our (parents) salary into consideration. I can't say that this is how it always was because I did get student loans for my college and repaid them but then again, I did not go to college until age 27
Comment: #52
Posted by: JustBecause
Fri Jul 19, 2013 4:50 PM
Wow! I am truly amazed at all of the wild speculations and theories going on here. Not to mentions the many suggestions for LW1 to change doctors. Why LW chose this doctor DOESN'T MATTER one bit, LW had a reason for doing so. In any medical field job there are staff that have a certain level of access to a patients file. The level of access depends on ones duties. IF LW aunt's duties allowed her to have access to information to patient's personal medical conditions / history and test results I can understand why LW did not want the aunt to have access to then. To the wild speculation as to the history of LW and aunt and how the aunt found out …… all I can say is, the imaginations of some is actually kind of scary. It may have been as simple as aunt trying to access the records in the course of her duties and was denied said access. I agree with who ever indicated access to family records could have very well could have been discussed at the morning meeting and NOT directed specifically at the aunt and she took it out of context. LW never indicated the aunt was untrustworthy and to conclude anything else by BLT's is completely out of line in my opinion. I do not believe LW did anything wrong here, however based on auntie's reaction is quite concerning. I agree LW needs to set the record straight with the rest of her family. If they choose to believe LW, fine ……. If not, well I prefer to believe no loss of love there and they will never believe LW no matter what LW may do to rectify the situation. Frankly I would give those a second thought.
Comment: #53
Posted by: Bailey
Fri Jul 19, 2013 5:44 PM
*53
line 7 should been **THEM
last sentence should have been**WOULDN'T
Comment: #54
Posted by: Bailey
Fri Jul 19, 2013 5:55 PM
DUH!!!

I can't even do my own corrections right.
*BE*
Comment: #55
Posted by: Bailey
Fri Jul 19, 2013 6:01 PM
Re: Maggie Lawrence #25
Got it. But just the same - I'm not sure anyone in that position will even be accepted in that kind of a program, given how indirectly connected the need seems to be.

#26
I think Bobaloo was being ironically hyperbolic to the extreme - as I sometimes am.

@Chris #34
"Anyone can take out student loans."
Independently of what anyone has said, no, not everyone can. You have to be considered "independent" for your parents' income to be considered separately from your own, and for theirs not to come in betwen you and your eligibility. I don't know about other places, but in Quebec, you're "independent" when you're or have been married, a single parent or two years out of your parents' house with the lease copies to prove it. At least that's the way it was when I was a student, I have no idea how it is now in the exact details, but it'll be a version of the same.

You're right that all an individual needs is to emancipated from his parents, but it's not always as simple as it looks.

@Jane #42
"THEY are ones who have breached patient confidentiality and caused a problem here, not the aunt,"
Yes, you're right about that. But the receptionist and the the doctor are not the ones spreading lies about the LW to family and on Facebook. Seems to me there is a lot of blame to go around here.

"As I just said, asking for a relative not to see your files can be simply a matter of not wanting to open Christmas presents with someone who knows the results of your Pap smear, not an indication the aunt is a nosy blabbermouth or unprofessional in any way."
True. She may be nosy, she may not, we'll never know. But her smear campaign REALLY doesn't make her look very good. There is no excuse for that, and it just makes it look like the LW had a valid reason to be suspicious. And as for the "hint" you're talking about... well, for me, her vindictive and over-the-top reaction is the hint.

"Bottom line, the LW needs to go to the doctor and receptionist and ask what the hell happened. "
Definitely that is in order.

@Zoe #44
""If the aunt was so trustworthy, then she would trust her to be a professional, now wouldn't she?"
That was me, not Jane. ;-D

@Baily #53
"Why LW chose this doctor DOESN'T MATTER one bit, LW had a reason for doing so."
Indeed it matters a lot less than the sanctity of her confidentiality. And... it the choice was so crucial, the reason for it would have been mentioned, I think.

"In any medical field job there are staff that have a certain level of access to a patients file."
That's right, THAT's why she wants to make sure her aunt is not one of them! For whatever reason good or bad.

"It may have been as simple as aunt trying to access the records in the course of her duties and was denied said access."
You're perfectly right about that. But there is nothing in there that justifies the calumnies to family and the smear campaign on Facebook.

Comment: #56
Posted by: Lise Brouillette
Fri Jul 19, 2013 7:11 PM
Re: Bailey (#53)

Well, I'll say this -- if the aunt had said nothing or been nice about accepting her niece's (relatively simple, IMO) request to not have have access to her private medical records, we might not even be having this conversation because she wouldn't be writing in. There would be no problem.

But the wild speculation theories are spread right from the aunt's response: She was offended, claimed she was "almost fired" and claimed that "derogatory information" had been posted by the LW on Facebook (when, in the latter case, she cannot provide a hard print-out copy or a link to the offending material). Her response alone, as described by the LW, leads me to think what I had stated before: that she still thinks of the niece as a child, that whatever medical situation was there was "family business" and that she is likely to spread it -- unwittingly, after having a few drinks at the college bar (when her discretion might be lowered and her lips loosened), or out of malice (after a bad day and maybe a bad argument with the niece or her family, doing it out of spite).

Speaking of "being called in by the boss" -- I wonder why? Could it have been that she got the notice and complained out loud (about not having access to her niece's medical records (i.e., a "gold mine")) to a point where her supervisor finally had enough and called her into the office?
Comment: #57
Posted by: Bobaloo
Sat Jul 20, 2013 10:35 AM
Lise Re: your post #16
1. “The woman sounds mentally ill and I wouldn't trust her not to find a way to access your records even if they WERE stored separately“
Really Lise? Nowhere is there ANY evidence or indication of this. So you chose your own theory which is totally ridicules and out of line. Just because the aunt is spreading lies and rumors doesn't make her mentally ill ….. Vindictive, absolutely.
2. “Why would the receptionist tell you a lot of people "make similar requests" when you asked that your records be kept separate from everyone else's? That was a special request, because you know your aunt works there. How many other patients have a relative working in the office? I doubt they have a separate and locked cabinet for each of their patients "making similar requests". Something here is not right“.
Perhaps the receptionist was attempting to reassure the LW that patient privacy is of the utmost priority. Patients have a variety of reasons to make such a request, like LW, maybe some know someone who works there, perhaps there is someone in the office they don't trust for one reason or another or they only want staff members who are required to see the records to perform their duties to see them. Also the office doesn't need a “separate locked cabinet for EACH patient”…… one lockable cabinet is all that is needed and only certain person(s) would have a key.
3. “How your aunt heard about this is what I'm worried about, and what other information she has access to in spite of what you were told. I think the receptionist was just telling you what you wanted to hear, and then straight away ran to your aunt with what would have been a choice tidbit of office gossip. I'm far from certain she honoured this“.
Again your theory is ridicules, there is absolutely no evidence or indication that this was the case. As some else stated it could have been a simple reminder to all at the morning meeting and the aunt may have took it personally or out of context and confronted the doctor as far we know. But you want to make some big conspiracy theory out of what you don't know.
4. “But first and foremost, find another doctor ASAP and have your records permanently transferred. Your confidentiality is not safe in that place“.
I don't know what the laws are in Canada but in the US, by law a doctor is required to kept patients records for at least SEVEN years. Anyone can get a copy of their records, but the originals stay with the doctor for seven years regardless if patient leaves the practice or dies.
5. Your response's on your post #56
#25
“Got it. But just the same - I'm not sure anyone in that position will even be accepted in that kind of a program, given how indirectly connected the need seems to be“.
Apparently you don't “get it”. It has nothing to do with the addict or the illness. It has everything to do with teaching family members cope with their personal situations and that they are not responsible for what the person may do. Anyone can attend the meetings regardless of the issue they are dealing with.
#42
“Yes, you're right about that. But the receptionist and the doctor are not the ones spreading lies about the LW to family and on Facebook. Seems to me there is a lot of blame to go around here“.
As I stated earlier there is absolutely no evidence or indication that this was the case. It's just your wild theory.
Now on to your responses to me:
Me: “"Why LW chose this doctor DOESN'T MATTER one bit, LW had a reason for doing so.
You: Indeed it matters a lot less than the sanctity of her confidentiality. And... it the choice was so crucial, the reason for it would have been mentioned, I think.
Indeed it matters a lot less than the sanctity of her confidentiality. And... it the choice was so crucial, the reason for it would have been mentioned, I think.
Me: I stand by my statement …. it doesn't matter.
*******
Me: "In any medical field job there are staff that have a certain level of access to a patients file."
You: That's right, THAT's why she wants to make sure her aunt is not one of them! For whatever reason good or bad.
Me: The “reason” was stated in the second sentence, so you either didn't see it or chose to ignore it.
*******
Me: "It may have been as simple as aunt trying to access the records in the course of her duties and was denied said access."
You: You're perfectly right about that. But there is nothing in there that justifies the calumnies to family and the smear campaign on Facebook.
Me: I never stated or indicated in anyway, "the aunt was justified in her action", perhaps you should go back and finish reading my post.
Comment: #58
Posted by: Bailey
Sat Jul 20, 2013 2:48 PM
Re: Bailey
1. "So you chose your own theory which is totally ridicules (sic) and out of line."
Yeah, I chose my own theory, which is allowed. Others had valid ones, and my own theory is NOt out of line, as it is one of the ones possible.
2. Perhaps. Perhaps you're the one who'se right, and perhaps I'm the one. Who knows?
3. Actually no, my "theory" is NOT "ridiculous", as I HAVE seen this happen in real life. Sorry if YOU haven't yet, chances are you will.
4. I don't know how long Canadian doctors are forced to keep records since I'm not one of them and have never worked for any of them, but one thing is for sure - the less there is in these records and the less risk there is when they're in an unsafe place. She should find a new doctor while her records are still relatively virgin, and my advice stands.

"5. Your response's on your post #56 #25"
Oh dear, you really have it in for me, don't you now?

"Anyone can attend the meetings regardless of the issue they are dealing with."
I don't know about that, and I would expect it depends on the chapters. I've never needed such services myself, but I DO know some people who were turned away because their issue was not "focused" enough on their specific mission so, you know.... What YOU know in YOUR corner of the planet is not a universal criterion. Other realities co-exist with your own.

I have known that about myself for some time, but I guess YOU still have to learn it for yourself. Frankly, I don't think I'm the one who doesn't "get it" right now.

"As I stated earlier there is absolutely no evidence or indication that this was the case. It's just your wild theory. "
Oh, and YOUR own theories are Gospel, of course. It's only mine which are "ridiculous". Yeah, yeah, yeah.

And BTW, whatever theories we posters in general put out are sometimes based on fact from the letter, sometimes on personal experience, sometimes on pure speculation, and the fact/experience/speculation often makes a lot of sense. It does NOT become "ridiculous" because you don't agree with it.

"Me: I stand by my statement …. it doesn't matter."
Hey. You're entitled to, whether I agree or not. And - DID YOU NOTICE? I never called you "ridiculous" for your opinion.

"The “reason” was stated in the second sentence, so you either didn't see it or chose to ignore it."
Yeah, so the reason was stated, I knew that, SO? I SAID - for whatever reason good or bad. It DOESN'T MATTER what the reason is. Speaking of not getting it...

I really don't know why you're so defensive and, frankly, combative about this, I was NOT putting you on trial, as your last paragraph seems to intimate... must be the heat. Take a deep breath and go get a glass of water, Bailey, I'm not your enemy.

Comment: #59
Posted by: Lise Brouillette
Sat Jul 20, 2013 4:47 PM
Re: Lise Brouillette
Yes I do have my own theories, however I based them on common sense and the evidence that was provided or indicated.
Of course your theories are you own, but I personal think you let your imagination get the better of you and I simply don't feel it was based common sense or the evidence that was provided. Especially the comment that the aunt is mentally ill. Perhaps I could have been tad more gentler on my response to that issue. So my apologizes for that.
And no Lise I am not "out to get you" and do not think of you as an enemy. I mostly enjoy reading your post, but like I said, I do indeed think you went too far based on the evidence of what we DO know.
Oh, BTW since you found it necessary to pointed my incorrect spelling of ONE word, you would be best to check your own first before you point out someone else you had a total of three including my name and a double word in the combined posts of 16 & 56 yet I didn't find it necessary to point them out. Most of us make a spelling error here and there.....
Comment: #60
Posted by: Bailey
Sat Jul 20, 2013 6:27 PM
Re: Bobaloo #57

I do agree with some your post, however some of the wild speculation is so far out there. Personally, some are just too foolish to be taken with any kind of common sense and reason. They are not based on ANY of the evidence, indications, or the facts that WE DO KNOW. That was my point. Of course a certain amount of speculations is needed within REASON, but again that should be based on common sense.
Comment: #61
Posted by: Bailey
Sat Jul 20, 2013 6:58 PM
Re: Bailey
Yeah, and if you quote something of mine that has a misspell or a typo, you're more than welcome to use (sic) also, lest people think the mistake was yours. My of my, but you're a bit sensitive today.

P.S.: For the aunt to react to this perceived slight by conducting a smear campaign with the family and on Facebook is so vastly overreacting, and constitutes such extreme behaviour that yes, I do believe she has mental issues. Do YOU do things like that? I don't either. Normal people don't behave that way.

Comment: #62
Posted by: Lise Brouillette
Sun Jul 21, 2013 6:03 AM
Bailey (#61);

Except that, as Lise points out, she ALREADY IS conducting a smear campaign (claiming statements were posted about her on Facebook when she likely cannot provide a link or specific hard copies (i.e., printouts) of the offending messages).

Could she do more of those things that I "wildly speculate about"? I dunno -- but the evidence isn't good. Like I said, if she had reacted like normal and realize it wasn't personal -- and I'll let you in on this teensy, tiny secret ... ***IT'S NOT*** (using a megaphone turned up to 150 decibels shouting in your ear) -- then there would be no reason for me to speculate then.
Comment: #63
Posted by: Bobaloo
Sun Jul 21, 2013 9:21 AM
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