View From a Height
Commentary from the Mile High City
Thursday, April 01, 2004

Privacy Follies 

This morning, I called in to my doctor to ask him about Zithromax. He prescribed it for me the last time I had strep, and I need to know if I can finish the course before Passover starts, in all likelihood rendering the medicine unusable. (It's a complicated, detailed, and very strict law. The kind of thing that has caused innumerable scisms over the years. But that's not important right now.) The answering service replied that they couldn't put the name of a prescription drug in a message, because the non-medically-trained Judy from Time-Life messaging might then know the name of some medication I was on.

Now I originated the call. I'm calling to ask about a specific medicine for a specific reason, which is also my own and none of amyone else's business. And I choose to tell her what drug I'm calling about. I'm not senile (yet), I'm not on AZT, I don't have a social disease, and last time I checked, strep was considered a perfectly respectable, if inconvenient, bug to have. Who cares if I give the receptionist the name of a drug I'm on if it's my choice?

I do know the HIPPA was passed to keep us all safe from prying eyes. But like so many laws, it's now being turned around to keep us safe from ourselves. Whether this was deliberately written into the origianl bill, or whether this is some mid-level, low-intelligence bureaucrat's idea of a brilliant administrative interpretation doesn't matter. The next drug I'm liable to be calling up about is Zoloft. Because this. Is. Nuts.

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