Wednesday, October 7, 2020

HIPAA Critical, Part IV

It has already happened twice at our house, and it still caught me off guard this week. No, not one of our teenagers saying, “I’m full.” Don’t be silly. That never happens. I’m talking about medical independence day.

Yes, that time-honored tradition of becoming completely in charge of all your own medical decisions with no input whatsoever from your parents at the ripe old age of twelve. You guessed it – I got blindsided by HIPAA, yet again.

You’d think I’d learn, but I suffer from a lifelong problem with being logical. Unlike the drooling, booger-eating bureaucrats who authored the HIPAA bill (most likely with crayons), I have met an actual twelve-year-old. As such, it just wouldn’t ever occur to me to put them in charge of what they should have for breakfast, let alone their medical decisions.

Waiter – “Good morning, what can I get you?”

Standard twelve-year-old – “Yes, good morning, I will have a fudge brownie, an empty glass, and a large bottle of syrup, please. And I do not believe I will be getting a tetanus shot this year. Or any other year. Thanks.”

So, there I was Monday morning, making a non-brownie and syrup breakfast for the boys, when my cell phone buzzed a calendar reminder. I glanced over to notice that I had ten minutes before Son Number Three’s doctor’s appointment was scheduled to start. His doctor is twenty minutes away from our house.

Holy crap! GET IN THE CAR!!!

I called the doctor’s office and had a stressful conversation with the appointment desk. They were really cool about it. The only reason the conversation was stressful was because I was having it while going 125 mph and sliding a Suburban sideways through intersections.

After I hung up and narrowly avoided an oncoming cement truck, I started to wonder, how did this happen? Why did I completely forget about this appointment? I obviously had it on my calendar, but why wasn’t I thinking about it. Why didn’t I wake up that morning with getting to the doctor on my mind?

Then I realized the answer. Usually when we have an appointment, I get about six emails and two or three text reminders ahead of time. “You have an upcoming appointment. Please let us know if you’re still able to make it.” “We’re looking forward to seeing you! Please fill out the pre-appointment health survey.” “Please let us know if you’ll need special assistance at your appointment, or an interpreter.” Yadda yadda.

I didn’t get a single communication before this appointment. I put it on my calendar six months ago and never heard from them again.

Well, we slid into the parking lot and ran to the waiting room, stopping only briefly for a nice lady at the front door to shoot our foreheads with the “you obviously don’t have COVID” laser. They saw him right away and I finally relaxed on the little spouse/parent chair in the corner of the exam room.

I apologized to the nurse for being late, thanked her for getting us right in, and then remarked how I had just realized I never received any emails or texts ahead of the visit.

She said simply, “Well, that’s because he turned twelve.”


Why was I even stressing? It wasn’t me that forgot the appointment after all. It was him! My irresponsible, medically-independent twelve-year-old son forgot all about his own appointment. C’mon, bro! Get it together. Why am I here at all, anyway? How come you didn’t set an alarm and jump on your bike at 5:30 A.M. to get yourself over here for your 7:00 appointment? For Pete’s sake, man.

When we were all done the nurse told me we could stop by the front desk on the way out and he could get his new twelve-year-old account all set up.


We set up the other two boys’ “private medical accounts” online, but I think I’ll skip it for Son Number Three.

They have no email address for him, and no phone number. So, whatever internet black hole they sent all the appointment reminders to, I want them to send the bills to the same damn place.

Let’s see how long they want to abide by the HIPAA rules then.

And if anyone out there is working to repeal these idiotic regulations, you can add “causes reckless driving” to the long list of things that are hazardous about letting a twelve-year-old be medically independent.

See you soon,



Copyright © 2020 Marc Schmatjen


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