Thursday, September 5, 2013

My Navel Engagement With HIPPA

So I took some time off to contemplate my navel.  As it happens, my navel is surrounded by so much acreage that it took me the first six months to find it.  Now, however, my umbilical year is done, and I have returned to the startling awareness that little has changed.  Case in point --

My Darling Judy picked up a prescription for Prednisone this morning.  Long experience has taught us that the P drug is not taken in the usual once- or twice-a-day fashion, but invariably requires a big initial dose, followed by sequentially smaller doses, until you're taking just one pill a day, and then the bottle is empty. Otherwise you may experience sweaty palms and death-like symptoms.

The Rx label said, "Take one a day by mouth."

My DJ did not get caught up in how else she might take pills than by mouth, but she did call the doctor's office to inquire whether this simple instruction might be incorrect.

Right - you can't just call a doctor's office, ask a question and expect a simple answer.  So she pleaded with the computer to have the medication nurse call back.  Then she went off to play bridge, oblivious to the regulatory machinery that she had set in motion.

I was still rooting around in my navel when the phone rang.  It was Mitsy, the medication nurse, looking for Judy.

"I can help you," I said.  "She just needs to know how to take the Prednisone: once a day or on a more traditional graduated schedule."  That's when I discovered that the world had not changed during my omphalic musings.

"I'm afraid I can't talk to you because of HIPPA," said Mitsy.

"I'm her husband; you can talk to me. My name is on a form somewhere in your office."

"Um ..."  It was a pregnant "Um ...."

"I promise I will not tell the government that you have disclosed the ultra-secret instructions for taking Prednisone."

"Um . . ."  She was considering how long it would take her to find Judy's HIPPA form with my name on it.

"Look," I said.  "If the FBI comes to your office and accuses you of breaching Prednisone security, you can swear that I threatened your first-born child."

I almost had her.

"Okay, then," I continued, "I guess the patient will just have to follow the instructions on the bottle.  The worse that can happen is sweaty palms."

"Oh, no," she blurted. "There's death-like ... um ... symptoms... Um ... theoretically, that is."

"Okay, I'll wait while you check the HIPPA form." 

I got my answer with surprising alacrity, and now I'm waiting for the FBI to appear on my doorstep.


P.S. ---

Dear N.S.A.:

This blog entry is a work of fiction, and any reference to Mitsy is a fragment of my loyal and patriotic imagination.  She doesn't even have a first-born child.

"These aren't the droids you're looking for."

--- Alec Guinness 1977 


  1. Newt - nice to see you back at it! You were missed.

    Call me if you need Bail ...


    1. Nice to know that there is still a reader left. I have been doing a Bridge blog for my students here in Florida, and that is now taking a lot of time. But I will try to write more regularly, Best to Carrie & kids.

  2. Well, since the obvious pun hasn't been used yet, I'll say it, "HIP HIPPA HOORAY! Newt's back!"

    I just hope they let you blog from the slammer, 'cause I don't think I could take another 13 months of checking every day for an Eye of Newt Post... Okay, maybe I didn't check every day... and maybe I haven't looked recently, but still, you and your wonderful wit were missed! Hope all is well in the land of Oranges :)

    1. All good here, Randy. Nice to be missed.

  3. Isn't bureaucracy wonderful? And we can't even sue them for their incompetence.

    Glad you're back Newt!

    P.S. There's always the Witness Protection Program.

    1. Thanks, Itsme. If HIPPA wasn't impenetrable enough, I'm applying for Medicare next. I'm scared...

  4. Isn't bureaucracy wonderful? And we can't even sue them for their incomptence.

    Glad to have toy back Newt!

    P.S. There's always the Witness Protection Program...

  5. FYI: People insert pills in the darndest places. Glad you're back showering us with your wonderful wit.