Have you noticed your doctor’s exam rooms getting a bit crowded lately? Your private conversations are no longer private. Someone else is listening in and recording your discussion.
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Exam Rooms Getting Crowded
In case you haven’t noticed, routine questions in your doctor’s office are not the same as before. While you are waiting to see your doctor you may be asked to complete a survey. This goes beyond your doctor’s concern for your well being. Many of these questions are now required by law.
Your answers are recorded and sent off to Washington for their massive database.
- Do you use tobacco?
- Do you use illegal drugs, including marijuana?
- Do you have multiple sex partners?
- How often do you have sex?
- Do you drink alcoholic beverages? How many per day? What kind (wine, beer, cocktail)?
- How often do you exercise?
- Do you have trouble sleeping?
- Do you have thoughts of suicide?
Some survey’s are several pages long and very intrusive.
CMS (Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services) wants this information so they can decide the most cost effective treatment plan that will be approved for Medicare and Medicaid patients. Washington figures if they are paying your medical bills they have a right to know what works and what doesn’t.
If you really want to know more, you can read about the IPAB here.
Briefly, the IPAB is the Independent Payment Advisory Board. This 15 member panel of politically appointed “experts” are responsible for reviewing medical records and treatment plans then making recommendations on what is cost effective and what isn’t.
In other words, your treatment would be decided by a bureaucracy, not your doctor.
But wait, there’s more!
Your State Legislature is Listening as Well
Intrusion in doctor’s exam rooms is not just nosy people at the federal level, your state wants a piece of the action as well.
The difference here is, some states are seeking to PROTECT your rights to privacy.
Florida has made it illegal for physicians to ask whether there are guns in the home. This matters. People who live in a home with a gun are three times more likely to be murdered–most frequently from domestic disputes.
In Connecticut, one of my patients was a middle-aged woman living with her schizophrenic son. He occasionally muttered he wanted to kill her. “Do you have a gun in the home?” I asked. This was important. It would change how likely he was to succeed in his wish. A gun with bullets in the home would increase her chances of dying dramatically.
“Yes,” she said. “I keep a loaded gun on me at all times.” She ignored my advice to get the gun out of her home. Or at least take the bullets out. “It makes me feel safe,” she said. That was her right as a patient, to ignore my advice. It was my duty as a physician to let her know the increased health risks.
After violence escalated in the home, and her son stabbed her with scissors, undeterred by the gun, my patient decided for herself to get rid of the gun before he used it on her or she used it on him.
Admittedly, some questions can be beneficial to the health of the patient. At the same time, someone who is determined to commit a violent act will not be deterred by attempts to restrict access to firearms.
If laws protected people from violence there would be no crime.
The next time you are in the doctors exam rooms, keep this in mind. Not all of your answers will stay within the confines of your doctor’s files. Someone else may be listening.
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