Dear Abby

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - HEALTH - Abi­gail Van Buren Dear Abby is writ­ten by Abi­gail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Con­tact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los An­ge­les, CA 90069. Good ad­vice for ev­ery­one — teens

Hos­pi­tal worker vi­o­lated law by read­ing hus­band’s records

DEAR ABBY: “Con­cerned in Mas­sachusetts” (Feb. 20) used her sta­tus as a hos­pi­tal em­ployee to ac­cess her hus­band’s med­i­cal records and found a history of STDs.

I’m a reg­is­tered nurse with 40 years’ ex­pe­ri­ence. Ev­ery healthcare or­ga­ni­za­tion I know of teaches all their em­ploy­ees about HIPAA vi­o­la­tions and that ac­cess­ing pri­vate pa­tient med­i­cal in­for­ma­tion is a crim­i­nal of­fense. It is es­sen­tial that pa­tients know they can trust us to pro­tect their pri­vacy. We have spe­cific poli­cies against us­ing one’s em­ployee sta­tus to ac­cess a rel­a­tive’s med­i­cal in­for­ma­tion.

“Con­cerned” is lucky she still has a job. At my in­sti­tu­tion, she would be ter­mi­nated for vi­o­lat­ing or­ga­ni­za­tional pol­icy and fed­eral law. She wouldn’t have to worry about how to broach the sub­ject with her hus­band; she’d be ex­plain­ing why she was fired. He may not be a saint, but nei­ther is she. Her ac­tions were un­ac­cept­able and re­flect a clear lack of in­tegrity and hon­esty. — SAFE­GUARD­ING THE RIGHT TO PRI­VACY

DEAR SAFE­GUARD­ING: Thank you for your in­formed re­sponse. You are not the only reader who was ap­palled at what “Con­cerned” had done. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: Like “Con­cerned’s” hus­band, I, too, am la­belled as high risk for STDs based on a med­i­cal sur­vey I com­pleted, although I have had a monog­a­mous 30-year mar­riage and do not do drugs of any kind.

In that sur­vey, they asked how many part­ners I had in my life­time. Those few other part­ners were be­fore I met my wife.

“Con­cerned” in­di­cated that her hus­band had been treated twice for STDs “some years back.” What does that mean? Were they mar­ried then? If not, is he la­belled high risk due to his pre­vi­ous be­hav­iour? Per­haps there is some­thing deeper in the re­la­tion­ship that needs ad­dress­ing, such as why there are weeks be­tween sex­ual con­tact with her hus­band.

It’s ironic that she’s bent out of shape over in­fi­delity con­cerns, but thinks it ac­cept­able to be­tray the pri­vacy and ethics rules gov­ern­ing med­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als. — VIN­CENT IN WEST VIR­GINIA

DEAR ABBY: “Young at Heart in Texas” (Feb. 9) could have writ­ten my story. I am also a 70year-old man who is sex­u­ally dys­func­tional. I, too, was lonely, hav­ing out­lived two of my brides. How­ever, I did find some­one who ap­pre­ci­ates hold­ing hands and whis­per­ing sweet words with­out more phys­i­cal con­tact.

Abby, you said: “Not only do I think you can ( find com­pan­ion­ship), I sus­pect you may need po­lice pro­tec­tion to con­trol the crowd of ap­pli­cants. Years ago, my aunt, the late Ann Lan­ders, polled her fe­male read­ers ask­ing if they would pre­fer ‘hold­ing and cud­dling’ to ac­tu­ally do­ing ‘the deed.’ The ma­jor­ity of them an­swered in the af­fir­ma­tive.”

My first wife died of a heart at­tack af­ter 30 years of mar­riage. My sec­ond wife died af­ter eight years of mar­riage, of kid­ney can­cer. At 71, I mar­ried my third wife, a won­der­ful woman just as you both de­scribe. She was my next-door neigh­bour. We have been mar­ried three years and nine months. (The Bi­ble says, “Love thy neigh­bour,” so I mar­ried her!) We also en­joy cud­dling, even with­out do­ing “the deed.”

So I say to “Young at Heart in Texas”: Yes, you can find a woman such as you and Abby de­scribe. And when you do, I sug­gest you rub her back of­ten. Women love it! — YOUNG AT HEART IN COLORADO

DEAR YOUNG AT HEART: I’m glad your story had a happy end­ing, and I’m cross­ing my fin­gers that “Young at Heart’s” will, too. Thanks for writ­ing to en­cour­age him.

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