TCM and HIPAA

Discussion in 'Traditional Healing Arts' started by Flea, Aug 30, 2011.

  1. Flea

    Flea Beating you all over those fries!

    • MartialTalk Mentor
    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2008
    Messages:
    2,005
    Likes Received:
    96
    Trophy Points:
    108
    I had a bizarre moment this morning and I'm not totally sure what to make of it.

    There's a fellow in my MA class who's a TCM practitioner. Nice guy, bright, thoughtful, good martial artist too. I saw that he was offering qi gong classes at his store, so I went on a lark. I had a good time - a recent injury limited my movement so I basically stuck with the same exercise through the whole thing, but that was okay. At one point I asked if he had any recommendations for depression, and he suggested a particular tea. I met some nice folks and learned some useful things. Altogether an enjoyable afternoon.

    Imagine my surprise when I logged on this morning to find this as his Facebook status: Front of the clinic is starting to look like the training montage in a kung fu movie. Some people attacking each other while others meditate. The guys in their eighties do taiji and this mentally ill woman just sort of does the same exercise for hours on end. I come out from time to time to answer questions, but mostly they are just taking care of themselves.

    As soon as I pried my talons out of the monitor I wrote him as politely as I could - something along the lines of "Please tell me I'm mis-reading this?" Oh no, it was another client who came in looking for a particular technique. She's doing well, he said, as if that explained everything. :rolleyes: That post of his was wrong on so many levels - a complete disregard for any client's privacy, the arbitrariness of identifying someone in those terms, the basic lack of respect.

    If I spoke about any of my clients like that, especially on something as visible as Facebook, I'd be fired in a heartbeat. I kept my reply polite, but I thought I'd do him a favor and remind him that there are very strict provisions for patient's privacy under HIPAA. I don't know whether TCM is covered under that, but if it is he could face some very heavy fines. I'm not going to report him, but he could be jeopardizing his whole fledgling business for the sake of ... what exactly?
     
  2. Xue Sheng

    Xue Sheng All weight is underside

    • Supporting Member
    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2006
    Messages:
    29,895
    Likes Received:
    4,430
    Trophy Points:
    308
    Location:
    North American Tectonic Plate
    My wife is a TCM Doctor from China and patient privacy andconfidentiality is rather important as far as she is concerned. However I donot believe she is doing this because of HIPAA it is more likely due to hertraining as a TCM doctor in China and how they deal with patient care at herhospital in China, although she is aware of HIPAA. She also does not teach anystyle of Kung Fu or Taijiquan nor does she get into Qigong either. She istrained in Qigong and Taijiquan but does not do any of it with her patients.She is strictly treating them like they would be treated in a major hospital inChina.
     
  3. cdunn

    cdunn 2nd Black Belt

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2007
    Messages:
    868
    Likes Received:
    36
    Trophy Points:
    28
    Location:
    Greensburg, PA
    With the way the law is written, HIPAA only applies to a medical practicioner if they accept medical insurance of any kind.
     
  4. oftheherd1

    oftheherd1 Senior Master

    Joined:
    May 12, 2011
    Messages:
    4,609
    Likes Received:
    787
    Trophy Points:
    263
    I am not well versed on HIPPA, but I believe you are correct.

    Flea - you certainly have a penchant for an interesting life! [​IMG] How do you do that?

    You are correct about his indiscretions. I would expect he will lose business over it. If he is licensed, his State may take a dim view of his posting if they learn of it. I would presume this isn't the first time he has done it. I am sure you have decided to stay far away from there. I would. Not from TCM, but from his business.
     
  5. Flea

    Flea Beating you all over those fries!

    • MartialTalk Mentor
    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2008
    Messages:
    2,005
    Likes Received:
    96
    Trophy Points:
    108
    I decided the other day that I'm too old and too fabulous to deal with crap like this, so I quietly unfriended him and took my name off his clinic's email list. He then sent me an odd rambling apology, saying that of course he wasn't referring to me because I wasn't even there that day!! And furthermore he'd been on antidepressants himself, so he's ever so understanding and sensitive. :rolleyes:

    So I decided to do him a favor and set him straight:

    I really appreciate your taking the time to reach out to me and apologize. I do believe that your intentions were pure when you made your post.

    But I think your letter misses the mark. The issue isn’t whether she did the exercise over and over, or your family history. It’s about privacy and basic respect. Going out of your way to cast someone as “this mentally ill person” is, at best, kind of like introducing someone as “my black friend.” If it truly isn’t an issue for you then why go out of your way to bring it up? You’re a full-fledged person with a rich history, a keen intellect, and a clear passion for living. If it doesn’t make sense to cast you one dimensionally as “this mentally ill guy,” it doesn’t make sense for her either. She also has a rich history, a family, and interests and passions of her own. That one-dimensional assessment is as disrespectful to her as it would be to you.

    That said, the stigma issue puts mental illness in a class by itself when it comes to privacy. You and I may have outgrown the stigma, but the rest of the world hasn’t. Outing someone with a psychiatric diagnosis can have very serious ramifications; she could potentially lose her job, or a vindictive ex could use the information as leverage. Her family could ostracize her. If she’s in the military, she could be summarily discharged as a “mental defective” and forfeit all her honors and benefits. I’ve seen all these things happen. Worse, if she came across your words directly she could feel really humiliated, setting her back in her recovery.

    Once information is posted online, there’s no way to control who sees it, or how it may be used or misinterpreted. Smurfington Heights is a small town, and people are interconnected here in some surprising and unpredictable ways. She may not be on your “friends” list, but there’s no telling who might recognize her from your description. If you haven’t removed that post yet, I hope you’ll consider doing so. If you’ve struggled yourself, I’m glad you’ve prevailed. But it doesn’t give you a pass to talk about anyone else. If anything, it means that you’re in a position to know better.

    Again, I appreciate your reaching out to me. I understand that you mean well. I hope you take this in a spirit of kindness in return, as I’d like to help you understand. You seem like a fascinating person with a good heart, and I hope we can still be friends.

    He wrote me back this morning with a single sentence non-answer: I understand what you are saying and appreciate you taking the time to help me understand.

    What a twerp. I deliberated as to whether I'd still be willing to pursue a friendship with him, and I doubt it. I've put up with over 30 years of stupid crap from bullies, discriminating bosses, lots of actions and deceptions "for my own good," and manipulative "friends" exploiting my disability, and as a result I've developed a blanket policy of zero tolerance .

    If that's the best he can come up with, ****'em. Who needs it! It's a shame, because he really did seem like a fun and intriguing person. At least he did me the favor of saving me a lot of time and energy by showing his true colors early on. And no, I never paid him a dime; the qi gong class was free. So no money lost either.

    Oftheherd, I'm not sure what you mean by my secret to an interesting life. But I'd be happy to sell you lessons at a low low introductory rate of $99.98 per hour. First hour only $99.97!! :uhyeah: Just as long as you're not some mentally-ill guy.
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2011
    • Like Like x 1
  6. aedrasteia

    aedrasteia Purple Belt

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2006
    Messages:
    384
    Likes Received:
    133
    Trophy Points:
    58
     

Share This Page