Categories Health Records

Lourdes Health System Annual Report

Dr. Seuss, The Berenstein Bears and Curious George are all common names at the Osborn Family Health Center. No, they are not the names of our patients, but the names of the many books that fill the center’s waiting and examination rooms as part of the Reach Out and Read Program, a literacy program geared towards children between the ages of six months to five years old.

For Mrs. Brown, Osborn and the Reach Out and Read Program are an integral part of her family’s history. Mrs. Brown has been a patient at Osborn since she was a baby. Today, as the mother of five children, Mrs. Brown often found it challenging to keep her appointments for her children’s immunizations and well-child visits. Her children hated getting their shots and were often afraid to see the doctor.

One day my middle child was offered a free book through the Reach Out and Read Program by his doctor,” said Mrs. Brown. “It was the first new book to enter our home and it has since been shared by all five children. Now my son asks when his next shot visit is scheduled so he can get a new book.”

The Reach Out and Read Program is designed to encourage routine visits by making the experience fun….or at least a little easier The program, endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, trains doctors and nurses to instruct parents on reading. Children are offered a free, brand new, developmentally and culturally appropriate children’s book to take home after every immunization or well-child visit. By the time the child starts school they will have a home library of at least ten new children’s books.

All of the books in our home have come from the Reach Out and Read Program at Osborn,” said Mrs. Brown. “When my son entered kindergarten and was asked to bring in a book to share with the class, he was so proud to have a favorite book from the Reach Out and Read Program.” Mrs. Brown explains that she would not take her babies anywhere else for care but Osborn “I feel safe at Lourdes, they treat me with compassion,”

The Osborn Family Health Center has served nearly a million people since it opened its doors 30 years ago. Located directly across the street from the hospital in a state-of-the-art medical facility it provides a variety of primary health services including family practice, obstetrics and gynecology, high-risk obstetrics, pediatrics and outpatient lab testing among other services.

Categories Health Records

When Your Health Records Are Not Kept Private

COMMENTARY Today, The Star Tribune reported that a Senate Health Committee, led by Minnesota (DFL) Senator, Al Franken, held a hearing against Accretive Health Inc. The Chicago based Accretive has been accused of aggressive debt-collection as well as preventing patients from obtaining emergency care, and a disregard for privacy laws.

When Your Health Records Are Not Kept Private

Between complaints from doctors and other health professionals working at these hospitals, and the Accretive loss of a laptop computer, the Minnesota Attorney General’s office had to step in and investigate.

What started out as a routine investigation on a stolen laptop containing personal health data on thousands of Minnesota hospital patients became an investigation of broken privacy laws. In January, when asked by the Minnesota AG, Accretive could not provide a privacy agreement as required by law. The AG’s investigation produced a backdated agreement after she made her request, then backdated it.

“That’s a pretty explosive charge,” Franken said.

Senator Franken may have made an understatement.

The hospitals gave out personal information to a company before completing the required documentation. I have to believe that the lack of documentation does not instill confidence that the hired billing company will handle our personal heath care information with care. But the loss of a laptop with this very personal information demonstrates an environment that does not place a huge importance on protecting medical privacy.

What is most alarming is that “An Accretive Health official failed to explain why a company employee had access to so much patient data when his laptop computer was stolen last year in Minneapolis.” Someone who was not a medical professional was given complete access to detailed medical histories. Histories that can assist doctors in detecting disease. Histories that have been instrumental in many patients denied health care. Histories that many patients do not want to reveal, fearing it will come back to haunt them. We are required to sign the privacy law, yet the very hospital that tells us that they are respecting our privacy is lying to us. And by backdating the agreement, this whole organization showed a lack of ethics.

The number one priority for a hospital should be to care for patients in a timely fashion. We give the hospital our money and we give them our medical information. We assume that they will not only heal us, but also protect our privacy. This incident is just one group in Minnesota. What about other places in America?

Ultimately, what is sad is that the hospitals affected by this situation were not the ones instigating this incident: the government needed to step in. This whole situation screams health care overhaul, and it cannot happen soon enough.