WASHINGTON, DC – Doctors, nurses, and other health care practitioners nationwide are breathing a sigh of relief this morning as government officials have loosened provisions in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), saying that it is now okay to just say whatever you want whenever you want wherever you want. The 2015 revision sums it up in a few simple words: “HIPAA 2015: Who the Heck Cares?”
“What is privacy, really?” asked surgeon Michael Loudmouth. “Privacy is a subjective thing. It’s like that old philosophical question about a tree in the forest and no one being around: does it make a sound? If I talk about a patient’s most intimate and private details in a busy elevator and the patient doesn’t hear anything about it, did I do anything wrong? Of course not!”
Nurse Emily Chatterbox agrees. “This is HUGE!” proclaims an excited Chatterbox, flipping through other patients’ charts like romance novels. “When something happened to a patient, I would die inside wanting to tell someone but couldn’t because of that stupid HIPAA. This is so much better, because now I can literally go down the hallway, tell everyone I know and don’t know that my patient pooped all over himself, and we can all have a good laugh about it!”
HIPAA was passed back in 1996 to help protect patient confidentiality and healthcare information. However, numerous medical societies over the past year asked the federal government to reexamine the law since healthcare practitioners violate it left and right anyways. According to the American Medical Association (AMA), they believed that it was easier to “relax” HIPAA instead of enforcing it. Government officials today said they agree with a resounding “Whatevs!”
“The truth is that HIPAA inhibits a natural process that happens in hospitals and clinics across the country: gossip,” explained Rep. Elizabeth Jabberer (D-Mass.), a member of the HIPAA-SCHMIPPA Committee. “So go ahead, talk all you want and we even encourage you to do it in crowded places. Patients won’t mind, right? And tell us details. Lots and lots of juicy details.”
Healthcare practitioners have always found it tough talking about patients in generic terms, using pronouns like “he” and “she” or made-up names like “Mrs. O” or “Mr. Cellulitis.” It was too depersonalized. And it’s hard to spread good gossip about a patient that isn’t yours without knowing details like a patient’s name, room number, medical history, birth date, street address, phone number, social security number, bank account information, and astrological sign.
“I just won’t know a patient if I call her Mrs. P,” explains internist Craig Chitchat. “But if I call her Mrs. Patricia Bashful, the tremendously shy lady in Room 226 with the embarrassing amount of vaginal discharge, and say it at the top of my lungs right in the middle of the cafeteria at lunchtime, I know that I’ll remember her case. And I doubt she would mind either. She’s such a sweetheart.”
Over the next few weeks, House and Senate representatives will start working on a new bill to eliminate patient privacy altogether by removing doors to hospitals rooms and banning hospital gowns in favor of total nudity.