Saturday, 24 March 2012

I'm a mite bit worried!

The NHS in England is introducing a Summary Care Record whereby your medical details and history will be available to medical personel seemingly all over the country at the touch of a button. In a way no problem but alarm bells are ringing and I'll tell you why. Am I being unecessarily wary. I would not like to stand in the way of progress BUT!!!
Only last week the Sunday Times uncovered a scam involving call centres in India. Some unscupulous workers were/are offering credit card details of individual customers for 2 pence a shot! They could be your or my details, there are 500,000 British customers and 330.000 call centre workers in India. Information passed on included confidential details of both a health and financial matters.The scale of the problem is unknown.
Now three items that are not gleaned from the press. Last week my wife attended hospital concerning a serious heart problem. The hospital is massive, new, modern. We (I attended for support) move twice through two waiting areas as we followed procedures. Eventually a pleasant little consultant popped his head out of his room and called out 'Mrs Stevens.' My wife duly followed the smiling little man and entered his room.
She thought it strange when he asked about her brother and referred to her anxieties on her previous visit. And thought it increasingly strange when he assured her the tests had all proved negative. Mainly because as yet my wife, after some considerable time has not reached the testing stage! A covert glance at her file gave my wife her answer. 'I'm Paulette Stevens' announced my wife, 'the file you have there belongs to a **** Stevens.' Embarrassment and apologies all round. Compounded by the fact that the other lady of the same surname was in the consulting room of the consultant my wife should have seen in the first place. No real harm done, as one of the consultants said. 'You're lucky, seeing two doctors for the price of one.'  BUT the implications as to what might have happened are interesting.
 A lady of my acquaintance, of impecable standing and morality, over fifties years married had reason to be tested following ill health. She was duly sent for and informed of the results. 'Sorry but you have venereal    disease!' Imagine the shock to anyone, never mind an elderly lady. Plus the consultant was adament the tests were correct. There could be no mistake. As the lady exclaimed, 'I must have inherited it, I assure you.' Fortunately her husband found it funny. And the reason, a mix up again of two people of the same surname; result, one written apology. Which is better than nothing, or is it.
A cousin of mine and her husband, living in the wilds of Lincolnshire had to travel twenty five miles for hospital treatment. One one occasion there was much confusion and dispute over records and National Insurance details. It turned out that someone had the husband's details, and the paperwork to prove it. Don't ask me how plus he was drawing benefits to which he had no entitlement. Which is of course both bizarre and criminal.  
If these are experiences from my little sheltered existence, how typical of our complex technological world I wonder. And it does all make you wonder what happens to all this information on us that is recorded and stored. Machines, commuters, systems rely on humam beings and I don't particularly trust human beings. What do you think? 


Expat mum said...

I don't think there's any greater chance of mistakes being made really. With the "old" way they simply pick up the wrong paper folder, and with the new way -who knows. I have noticed with recent doctor visits, (USA) that even though the nurse and doctor knew who I was, the first thing they did when picking up my information was to ask me my full name AND date of birth. Obviously it's on their minds too.

Ruth said...

Electronic records have safeguards, and those can fail, true. There are many ways computers can be hacked. However, I don't think it's a large-scale problem right now. Companies are always trying to beat the hackers, and the hackers are always pushing to beat the companies. It's that 'build a better mousetrap' thing. Of course, that's no comfort if it's your information and identity that have been stolen.

Nota Bene said...

I hope when I'm dead and buried, it's a case of mistaken identity...

Galen Pearl said...

It's always a trade off, isn't it? Progress and attendant risk.

busana muslim said...

Very good article. Congratulations.

Unknown said...

Enjoyed this blog a great deal. Don't worry about the Summary Care Record though. It'll only contain a minimal set of data, allergies and medications, and you'll have complete control over it. If anyone needs to look at it they need to have the rights assigned to them and seek your permission. Also, at any point you can decide to lock your SCR so no-one can look at it.

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