Tuesday, April 08, 2008

I've got a helluva headache

From the folder marked "Irony/More Bureaucratic Bullshit"...a little background:

From WEEK TV's website today:

There have been some of the worst cases of child abuse in central Illinois in the news lately. The Benjamin Sargent case in February, where authorities say a 5-month-old baby was left strapped in his car seat eight days without food.

And this past weekend's case, where police say 22-year old Timothy Johnston kicked a three-year-old in the genitals and slapped his face.

Currently, there are 1,179 child abuse and neglect cases pending in Peoria County.

Today, a group trying to raise awareness of child abuse joined hands with those in law enforcement, the judicial system, child advocates and concern citizens.

Peoria County Sheriff Mike McCoy said it is time for abuse and neglect to end. He says it is a top law enforcement priority.

Patti Morris with the Center for Prevention of Abuse says it is important for people to report abuse so those children can be help. She says children face abuse on the Internet and from those they know.

"It's about helping the children and making people aware of the risks and the kinds of things that put them at high risks. It is not just strangers; it is often times people closest to them and that the most important thing people need to know," said Morris.

This is the situation in the weekend abuse case involving Timothy Johnston. He was babysitting his girlfriend's three-year-old boy when police say he abused the child.

Got that? Ok, now go read about the
  • Law.

    If ya don't wanna take the time to do that, in a nutshell:

    The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was enacted by the U.S. Congress in 1996.

    According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) website, Title I of HIPAA protects health insurance coverage for workers and their families when they change or lose their jobs.

    Title II of HIPAA, the Administrative Simplification (AS) provisions, requires the establishment of national standards for electronic health care transactions and national identifiers for providers, health insurance plans, and employers.

    The AS provisions also address the security and privacy of health data. The standards are meant to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the nation's health care system by encouraging the widespread use of electronic data interchange in the US health care system.

    Like most laws, HIPAA has it's share of...glitches.

    Ok, so as a Registered Nurse and in the scope of my practice at my current job, I'm what's called a "Mandated Reporter". That means, if I suspect that child abuse or neglect has occurred, I'm compelled to report it to DCFS. No if's and's or but's...I hafta call the DCFS Hotline and write up an extremely detailed report.


    If DCFS calls me back for more information....I can't fuckin say a word. Not. One. Word. I cannot give them any more information...even if I have it...because of this fuckin HIPAA law, more specifically, the part of the law that concerns the "security and privacy of health data". And the only way they can get more information is to subpoena it. Which takes time. And time is somethin that a lotta poor, abused little kids don't have.

    Could this possibly be any more insane?

    Ya know, here in Illinois, we hear a lotta stories about the Department of Children and Family Services droppin the ball...lettin abused kids slip through the cracks...but is it any wonder, fer chrissake?

    We're absolutely outraged when we hear about DCFS investigating this or that case and nothing happens...and then a kid...or two...turns up horribly abused...or dead. And I'm sure that there are times they do slip through the cracks because of a less-than-aggressive investigator.

    But, just remember...there are other times...times like this...that we...with stupid laws like this...essentially prevent them from doing what they're supposed to. Protect innocent kids.

    I swear ta gawd...they can "join hands" all they want...but it's just not very effective when those hands are tied.


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