Monday, April 4, 2022

The High Price of Venting...


There is a quote from Shakespeare that I really like.  This is modernized version of the original, but it basically says "Discretion is the better part of valor."  It's a great quote because it can apply to so many of the situations we find ourselves immersed in.  Basically the idea is that many times it is just better to say nothing.

This is especially true in healthcare.  I've always felt that a patient's information or their stories are shared with the dental team and meant for only them.  If "person A" shares any kind of info with us, it stays with us.  If "person A" wants that info shared with anyone else, then they can share that info personally with them.  Our job requires discretion.  I think that is simply the honorable thing to do.

It is now also the legal thing to do.   Since HIPAA was passed and signed into law, PHI (Protected Health Information) is required to be kept secure.  If that information leaves the office, there are potential legal penalties.

That brings me to the reason for today's post.  In today's environment of social media and websites where customers can share their experiences, both good and bad, sometimes a business or practice will receive a review that they feel is unfair.

The story behind today's post is that an office felt a poor review wasn't deserved, so they decided to respond publicly.  Doing so is a violation of applicable HIPAA laws and an investigation was undertaken by the HHS Office of Civil Rights.

The result?  The office was fined $50,000.  I won't get into all of the details, because the point of this post to those in healthcare is this: Do not respond in this manner.  The best way to deal with a negative review is by having lots of positive reviews.  Even the best office cannot have 100% satisfaction.  An occasional negative review is going to happen.  Learn from the experience, perhaps reach out to the patient directly via a phone call.

If you want all the details of this story, you can read about it here at the OCR website.  

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