And UW Medical Center’s Response…

Written by Scott

Topics: Archives, Faith, Family


Late this afternoon I received the reply from UM Medical Center’s Patient Relations (at 4:27pm, to be exact). Original email and info from previous post here.

It could be summed up in one word: bureaucracy.

But that would make for far too short of a post, and I wanted to share what their response was after carefully reading my email for essentially two business days (and analyze, because blogging is cheaper and funnier than therapy).

So here we go.

The email begins with a disclosure that’s normally appended to emails (since posted, I’ve been informed this is the new standard in medical communications… so feel free to disregard this section, or just laugh along with me):

This message and any attachments to it is protected by coordinated quality improvement/risk management/peer review confidentiality under RCW 70.41.200/4.24.250/43.70.510. Privileged confidential patient identifiable information also may be contained in this message. This information is meant only for the use of the intended recipients. If you are not the intended recipient or if the message has been addressed to you in error, do not read, disclose, reproductive, distribute, disseminate or otherwise use this transmission. Instead, please notify the sender by reply email and then destroy all copies of the message and any attachments.

I thought, aside from being odd that the email began with the disclosure, that it seemed to be an attempt to prevent the recipient (me) from disseminating the email by invoking HIPAA, almost threateningly. And I don’t take too well to that. Not well at all.

That’s not the intent of HIPAA, and as a matter of fact, let me add a little section that is in each and every one of the RCWs listed above:

The privacy protections of chapter 70.02 RCW and the federal health insurance portability and accountability act of 1996 and its implementing regulations apply to the sharing of individually identifiable patient information held by a coordinated quality improvement program.

That is to say: HIPAA protections are for the patient, not for the organization (well, except in protecting the patient’s information). Further, nothing in this email is disclosing PHI (protected health information). So we’ll continue…

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Kuhn:

Thank you for your email. I am sorry to hear of your experiences.

I have shared your concerns with our Ultrasound Supervisor, as well as MICC Manager. When we do not meet the expectations of our patients or their loved ones, the feedback provided allows us to identify ways in which we can improve the care and service we provide to you and other patients in the future.

Standard fare, I suppose. Turned the focus to the organization pretty quickly. But did they share what those improvements might be? Well…

It is unfortunate to read that because of you and your wife’s experience yesterday, you are questioning whether or not to proceed with seeking care here. I want to assure you that the care and service we provide is exemplary, and understand that your experience yesterday was not of that caliber, but we hope that we can change your mind moving forward.

The answer would be no. (And yesterday? No, the visit was Monday.) How about that assurance, though? The care and service they provide is exemplary….so assuming our experience was an aberration, that would make the claim above more of a goal rather than a statement of fact. [Or the organization suffers from bureaucratic delusion because few ever complain. That’s in the realm of possibility too, right?]. But there’s hope in that last sentence…so let’s see how they might choose to help change our minds moving forward…

Again, thank you for taking the time to share your feedback. Please let me know if there’s anything else I can do to be of further assistance.

Wait…anything else? I’m still trying to figure out what assistance was given in the first place. Did I miss it? Maybe there’ll be something to glean from the closing.


[Contact info]

Best?! Best…what? What does that even mean? Expectations have already been lowered, so why even shoot for ‘best’, when ‘good’ will suffice? Or maybe ‘Wish you well enough’. Or ‘Sincerely hope the net effect of our service is at least slightly positive after considering the stress we added and the time we wasted.’  </sarcasm…though that’s pretty hard to believe too>

So that’s it. Hope you’ve enjoyed today’s edition of Analyzing Bureaucrat-Speak™.

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