Since 1996, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) has established laws to protect the confidentiality of patients.

As one who humbly works in hospice, and has joyously labored in churches, I know the importance of privacy and agree with HIPAA’s purpose and goals. Regardless of government regulations, as an ordained pastor I am vividly aware of how people can feel vulnerable when facing illness and adversity.

Alas, we live in a litigious society. It seems someone is always suing another person or company because of real or imagined slander, libel, or mismanaged money.

It’s also an era when social media appears to give people access to everything about everyone.

All things considered, why would anyone write publicly about “private matters?” You might get sued! You might be verbally “attacked” by irked Facebookers or Tweeters or Instagramers! And, worst of all (in my view), the feelings of a fellow, vulnerable human might get hurt.

As you read my essays, please be assured I make every effort to guard privacy. If a real event has inspired me to reflect on its importance for others, I make essential changes while seeking to honor the value of the experience. Those changes may include ages, relationships, the person’s sex (and sexual orientation), the location, the time of year, and so forth. The changes might be “fictional” additions or the near absence of any detail.

Many avoid thinking or talking about dying, death, and grief. Hospice, where those subjects are daily realities, is too often dreaded or misunderstood. I fervently hope my writing helps transform any negative perceptions about hospice into positive knowledge, open-minded views, and helpful questions for readers exploring my Hospice Matters webpage.

I always enjoy your feedback. Don’t hesitate to contact me at larry (at) larrypatten (dot) com.