Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Mailbag's getting full...

An e-mailer writes:
"Through a series of unforseen events, I wound up delivering my baby by c-section under general anesthesia. After delivery I was prescribed valium and demerol. The combination caused hallucinations, memory loss, and general insanity for 48 hours. My ob/gyn recognized that my problems were due to drug interaction and changed the prescriptions. But during that 48 hours of hell, the hospital psychiatrist diagnosed me as having post-partum depression...I've never had post-partum depression. I'd like that diagnosis out of my medical records as it is erroneous. How do I remove it? Or how do I challenge it?"
The HIPAA website addresses this problem:
You can ask to change any wrong information in your file or add information to your file if it is incomplete. For example, if you and your hospital agree that your file has the wrong result for a test, the hospital must change it. Even if the hospital believes the test result is correct, you still have the right to have your disagreement noted in your file. In most cases the file should be changed within 60 days, but the hospital can take an extra 30 days if you are given a reason.
Patients may also wish to meet with their doctor and ask questions about why a particular diagnosis was made.

Another e-mailer has a different concern about confidentiality, and I don't know the answer:
"What are the confidentiality ethics for patients writing about their experiences? Not use the doctor's name? Should a patient mention it to the psychiatrist? Should the psychiatrist read the blog?"
I've never thought about that! I couldn't promise a patient that I would read their blog, and I would hope that we could discuss things directly in sessions. For the ethics of blogging about your doctor, I'm tempted to page Dr. Maurice Bernstein (although he's been pretty busy with the Schiavo case!).

The author of the excellent Botanical Girl sends an intriguing link:

"July 7 — A recent study by German researchers reportedly found that the Borna virus, an infection that is known to cause behavioral changes in some animals, was present in up to 100 percent of people experiencing severe mood disorders, but in only 30 percent of people who were healthy. The results prompted new speculation as to whether or not the Borna virus causes depression."

A friend sent me this link and I thought it was interesting. I just noticed this was published in 2001 though. There might be new information at this point. Anyway, feel free to blog it if you like.

-BotanicalGirl (
If there's new information, I haven't heard it. I'll have to do a Medline search. I must add Botanical Girl to my blogroll, too.

As for the requests to provide medical advice, endorse specific charities (except for the Red Cross), and march in your town's homecoming parade: regretfully, I must decline. I need to have some limits here!
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