I Am Them

September 6, 2014

My friend Carolyn Thomas posted an open letter I wrote on her website Heart Sisters.  As a result, Medicine X asked me to participate in their conference this year and presented my reading a shorter version – video below.

“Dear Medicine X Conference organizers, Read the rest of this entry »


Share Your Story

May 20, 2014

I’ve told a few stories about my medical care as of late, but my voice is one of many.  Scores of patients and their families have experienced medical errors, medication errors, doctor mal/mis-treatment, over treatment, hospital acquired infections and more.  For many of us reparations cannot be made.  But we can make change and try to ensure that patients who come after us receive better care.  To do this, we must share our stories. Read the rest of this entry »


Four HIPAA Violations

April 8, 2014

*Nothing below is meant to be considered as legal advice.

As a lawyer I focus on HIPAA (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act).  I’ve written about HIPAA in cloud based computing for IBM, I’ve trained providers as to how to be compliant, I’ve audited technology companies for compliance, I’ve blogged on Privacy Questions.  Most providers I see do not realize this.  Thus it is somewhat ironic when I encounter a HIPAA violation as a patient.  And recently, I’ve encountered no less than 4 HIPAA violations in the last 4 months. Violations of disclosing hospital records, security of patient portals, text messaging, and marketing.

In short, HIPAA consists in part of the Privacy and Security Rules.  These rules give patients protections as to how their information is used, stored, and disclosed.  These rules were updated last year under the HITECH (Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health) which strengthened these provisions, breach notification laws, and penalties for violation.

Health and Human Services currently lists 931 breaches that have affected 30.6 million people.  But these are mainly before the new HITECH rules came out which are stricter.  Most people hear about HIPAA breaches when a provider has lost an unencrypted computer or flash drive containing patient information.  But violations are not just losing information.  They include the ones I have encountered below. Read the rest of this entry »


Why EMTALA Still Matters But Isn’t Enough

March 17, 2014

Last week I talked about my experience in the hospital that was Not Meant to Be.  Among the many issues was an overarching theme of access to healthcare.  As I said before, only by the grace of the passage of EMTALA (the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act) passed in 1986, was I able to get the care I needed.

EMTALA requires Medicare-participating hospitals that offer emergency services to provide medical screening examination and stabilizing treatment for patients with emergency medical conditions regardless of an individual’s ability to pay.  EMTALA is incredibly important for the uninsured, but it isn’t enough. Read the rest of this entry »


Not Meant to Be

March 13, 2014

I don’t believe in the phrase “it was meant to be” or “this is all happening for a reason” because I can’t believe that people are meant to be hurt.  I can’t believe that children are meant to starve to death or women abused.  I do think that when something happens, even though it’s not meant to be, we have an opportunity to create change.

If you follow me on twitter you will see that I’ve been tweeting a lot about my experience with St. David’s HealthCare.  I have never seen or experienced so many medical errors and medical record errors in one person’s case.  What astonishes me aren’t the individual errors alone but the number of errors – a true systems failure where there were inexcusable errors at every single point of care.  Honestly, it is amazing that I am physically okay considering the errors made – the potential that I could have died.  But the mental recovery is ongoing as I process my personal experience and consider how to use the opportunity to ask for change in the medical system. Read the rest of this entry »


The Power of Low-Tech in Healthcare

February 9, 2014

Every year, I take time to make some Valentine’s Day cards for kids.  The local radio station gathers cards from the community to take to children who have to be in the hospital on Valentine’s Day.  These kids will miss out on the class parties and the fun of exchanging cards, they need to be reminded they are loved and remembered.

I ask friends not to send me cards, but to send me blank cards so I can send them to the kids.  My grandma used to send me a whole pack of blank cards for the kids.  I take such pleasure in this small gesture.  And every year it reminds me the power of such small acts.  While healthcare is focused right now on high-tech, I maintain that we must not forget the impact of the low-tech.

We know that “laughter is the best medicine.” And a simple smile can meant the world to someone who is sick. In everyday life, a simple smile can reduce our stress and anxiety.  So how can we put into practice the low-tech solutions that could transform healthcare? Here are some examples I’ve experienced: Read the rest of this entry »


$875

February 3, 2014

There are a lot of things you cannot afford on $875 per month.  But according to the State of Texas $875 means you are too rich to be on Medicaid – even if you are disabled and thus by definition need medical care.

Last year, I made one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make – to apply for Social Security Disability.  After more than a year of struggling, I came to the hard realization that I had to accept that my disabilities prohibited me from working – or as the Social Security Administration says, engage in “substantial gainful activity.”

‘How could this be so’ everyone, including myself, asks?  I am a lawyer.  I am told I am intelligent and head strong, a leader with ambition and drive.  I have overcome so many obstacles and given all of myself to make an impact in society.  Yet, 4 autoimmune diseases, 13 chronic health conditions, and many setbacks the sobering realization that I could not give of myself anymore forced me to accepting my disabilities and need for assistance. Read the rest of this entry »


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