Archive for Medicalese – Page 2

Hospice & HIPAA

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) could also be labeled big and cumbersome . . . but don’t get in its way either!

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) could also be labeled big and cumbersome . . . but don’t get in its way either!

When saying or hearing HIPAA, I sometimes imagine a hippo.

The hippopotamus—“water horse” from the Greek—is the third largest land animal. It’s cumbersome, thick-skinned, and appears to have been created by a committee forced into decisions before a deadline eliminated funding. The native-to-Africa beast is remarkably fast, whether running or swimming . . . so don’t linger if a hippo heads in your direction!

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) could also be labeled big and cumbersome . . . but don’t get in its way either!

HIPAA irks me. I rarely remember the letters creating the acronym: HIPPA, HPPA, or HIPAH? And I usually fail to correctly identify what the letters stand for. Doesn’t the “I” mean Information and shouldn’t the “P” be for Patient? Why, please, was the awkward “portability” ever considered as a useful word for the average consumer? Read More →

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Death Certificates and Heart Failure

county-clerk-300x225Death certificates are some of the worst reading material you’ll ever own.

But they are necessary for the “business” after a loved one’s death. I suggest purchasing a number of certificates, with extras stashed in a file instead of requesting a few more and then a few more.

On a practical note, the mortuary handling the death will most likely create and complete the death certificate. Official copies can be obtained from a county clerk’s office*.

Insurance companies, banks, and similar institutions requiring proof of death will often want the legal certificate issued with the county’s seal. However, when handling my parents’ estate, the companies that requested an official certificate versus those that didn’t even want a copy of a copy were never predictable.

You will scrutinize the certificate, confirming the facts are accurate about your beloved: date and place of birth, full name, his or her “usual occupation,” location of the grave, and what is

The cause of death . . .

Will death’s cause surprise you? My father’s certificate proved unsettling. According to the one-page document printed on sturdy paper, Dad died from the mundane . . . “Heart Failure.” Read More →

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In Hospice: Should You Titrate?

What does titrate mean?

What does titrate mean?

Until working in hospice, and hanging around nurses and doctors, I’d never knowingly heard or used titrate in a sentence.

With no medical or chemistry background, I have darn good excuses for my ignorance.

In a patient care meeting, when a nurse asked a doctor about titrating the new medication for a patient, I’d keep a straight face. I’d maybe give a brief neutral nod, and then hoped there wouldn’t be a snap quiz after the coffee break.

Fortunately, while ignorant of many things, I’m equally curious about nearly everything! I own bunches of dictionaries and thesauruses! I can search the web! I can ask a nurse!

I eventually asked a nurse. Talking to a nice person is far better than aiming the dusty magnifying glass at a page in my Compact Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary. The definitions are printed in fonts so tiny an eagle would struggle to read a sentence.

So a friendly RN told me that many drugs should be titrated whenever introduced or discontinued as part of a patient’s care. In other words, she explained with a kind smile, there should be a gradual increase or decrease in the dosage over a period of time.

Why? Read More →

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