Jim Mullen: I’ve got a secret … maybe | TheUnion.com
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Jim Mullen: I’ve got a secret … maybe

Jim Mullen
Columnist

I often hear retired people say, “I’ve never been busier. I don’t know where all the time goes.”

Well, I know where it goes: It goes to the doctor’s office.

I’m in good health, and checkups and tests still take up a good part of my week. It’s cutting into my golf time and naptime. My friend Charlie went to a doctor last week to look at an old, persistent ankle injury. When the doctor was finished, Charlie also mentioned that his knee was acting up. Oh, no, that needs a different appointment, with a different doctor, in a different part of town. Charlie said it was like having your eye doctor say, “Hey, I don’t do both eyes, just one. You want the other eye, make another appointment.”

Something tells me I’m going to hear from foot doctors about this, but that’s OK. I can dish it out and I can take it. My medical knowledge ends with, “Your ankle bone connected to your leg bone, your leg bone connected to your knee bone” from a song I haven’t heard in 50 years. Modern medicine has probably changed since then, but a doctor is a doctor — they should all know something about a knee, even if it’s not their specialty.

I’m in good health, and checkups and tests still take up a good part of my week.

All the doctors’ offices tell you to show up 20 minutes early for your appointment so that you’ll have plenty of time to fill out the same forms you filled out the last time you were there. Yes, it’s important to know if my meds have changed since the last visit. But why they want yet another record of my Social Security number, and to make yet another copy of my driver’s license, is not so clear.

If Google or Facebook asked for that information, there’d be a rebellion, but if your doctor asks for it, sure. What’s the worst that could happen?

What’s that? You say my bank account has been looted by an identity thief? How? They’d have to know my Social Security number, my birthday and my address to do that. Where could they ever get all that information? I don’t even give my ZIP code to stores that still ask for it. Thank goodness my doctor keeps my files, along with hundreds of others, in paper file folders right behind the receptionist’s desk, next to a business-sized copy machine where they’d be hard for anyone to get to. Except, oh, the nightly cleaning crew, that creep the receptionist used to date, the guy who fixes the air conditioning and a few dozen other people who stroll through the office on a regular basis.

And it’s not just my primary doc who has my files: so does my optometrist, my cardiologist, my dentist, the imaging lab and every health care provider I’ve ever seen. They are doing for my privacy pretty much what a hospital gown does for my backside. Yet it seems the only person who can’t see my very personal and private files is me.

I’m still waiting for the results of tests I took weeks ago. Mum’s the word. There’s a website where I can see the results if I jump through 50 hoops, but when I finally log in and get to the correct page, there are no results listed. Another doctor has the same setup, but it’s on a different site, which means a different login and a different set of five security questions. Who was my best friend in first grade? What was my mother’s maiden name?

Why on Earth would I answer these questions? How many times has my identity been stolen by Eastern European hackers who just love to get their hands on this kind of stuff? This is not protecting my privacy; it’s invading it. There has to be a better way.

Contact Jim Mullen at mullen.jim@gmail.com.


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