On Confidentiality

I love my job. I am privileged, honored really, to do what I do. People share the intimate details of their lives with me in the simple course of my day-to-day work, and I am in awe of this. I have great respect for their privacy.  And while I am willing to share the details of my own life, this does not extend to the lives of any of those around me (at least, as of January 2015).

To my patients: I will never write about you, nor your specific case.  For example, if I see someone in clinic who is very sick, and the case is challenging, and I want to share that, I think back to other similar cases. What are the salient, relevant features? It’s not going to be the specific case details, but rather, describing how this was challenging to me. Did the diagnosis elude me, was I not confident in my skills?  I focus on emotions, and lessons learned. Any names, potentially identifying information, physical findings, specific imaging and/or lab results are omitted or altered. If the real patient was an elderly woman with pneumonia, my essay will feature a young woman with pyelonephritis, and so on. I do this to comply with HIPAA regulations, as well as to be nice and ethical. Because, while it is true that I can be fired if a patient recognizes themselves on these pages, it’s more important to me that I never violate anyone’s trust.

To my family, friends, colleagues, neighbors, kids’ teachers, parents of my kids’ classmates, mailman, hairdresser, etc, etc: I have learned the hard way that any writing that directly alludes to a real person in my life had better be positive and complementary. Past blog posts of mine that have included venting have caused pain, and for that, I am deeply sorry. Those have been removed. (For the record, there were two.) If I have a beef with someone, I resolve to go to them, rather than to these pages. This blog will not be a place for personal vindication.

To my Employer: I very much enjoy working for you, and would like to keep doing so for a very long time. I am perfectly aware (and will make it very clear here now) that you do not review or pre-approve any of my writing. The title of this blog originally referred to the fact that I completed a fellowship in general internal medicine, and am a member of the general internal medicine unit at our hospital.

To the guy that tried to run me down as I crossed the road: On these pages, you’re toast. Obnoxious strangers will be subject to all manner of venting.  Take heed!

1 thought on “On Confidentiality”

  1. your desktop looks like mine….minus the pager (thank good) and plus more things that resemble nose discharge
    thanks for your stories 🙂

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