Wednesday, March 26, 2014

How One Hospital Deals with Identity Theft

When logic and sanity bump up against bureaucracy, bureaucracy always wins. I can't imagine this occurring if the hospital system in America wasn't so corrupted by government regulations.

Rafi Kohan writes in the The New York Observer:
Lisa Schifferle, an attorney with the FTC, told me a story about a pregnant woman who after having her identity stolen showed up at the hospital in labor and was turned away because according to the hospital's records she had already had a baby six months earlier.


  1. Double plus good !

    Thankfully Juan and Juanita just arrived from across the border will not get turned away and will get their kid delivered for free, no questions asked and as an added bonus the newborn will get U.S.A. citizenship.

  2. That's nothing. My story is better. I worked on a project to remove duplicate patient names in an FDA-regulated medical device used at many hospitals in NYC...which has its own unique socialized medicine system. Using heuristics I was able to merge patient records for John A Smith and John Smith Jr if they had 11 data points that were similar other than name. The requirements and code were signed-off by all parties and everyone was happy.

    Until 2 weeks after it was "turned on" at all of the hospitals. I arrived at work and was told that if I didn't roll back the change I would be fired on the spot. I asked what was wrong.

    "Your system is working too well and our heroine addicts can't get their methadone!"

    Seriously, that was the statement. Previously John A Smith would register at Hospital A and receive his methadone and a subway token to get back home and his patient record would be updated to reflect that his methadone was scheduled for refill in x weeks. Instead of going home Mr Smith would use his subway ticket to go to Hospital B where he was registered as John Smith Jr and would receive his allotted methadone and a subway token. He would take his token to Hospital C where he was registered as John A. Smith Jr get the point.

    Now, one would think I should get plaudits for stopping this fraud...even if it was by accident. Nope. The politicians were livid because they now had more accurate hospital records but a whole bunch of wild heroine addicts that couldn't get their overdose of methadone. I had the change backed out in 48 hours and we eventually coded a system that eliminated duplicate patients from the systems...unless they were on methadone.

    True story...