NORTHERN CALIFORNIA MEDICAL ASSOCIATES PRACTICES PATIENT BLACKLISTING VIA COMPUTER
On October 31, 2006, Ms. Jenke called a local rheumatologist named Dr. Jack Waxman, (ML#G23398) based on a referral from a local shoulder surgeon. After examining the large amount of muscle wasting on Bobbie’s upper body, chest and neck, the surgeon hoped to rule out any rheumatological problems, so he referred her to Dr. Jack Waxman.
When Bobbie tried to call Dr. Waxman’s office for an appointment she was told she was not allowed to have one. She was told she had been “Discharged” from all physicians in the Northern California Medical Association’s network back in the year 2002 based on something in the computer dealing with a Dr. Lawrence Cooper, ML# G81393, an Internist with Northern California Medical Association. (For more information on a “Public Reprimand” for Dr. Lawrence Cooper please click on this link to the Medical Board of California).
Given the seriousness of Bobbie‘s injuries, she became very concerned. She looked up Northern California Medical Associates, NCMA, on the internet and discovered they describe themselves as a team “composed of highly skilled primary care physicians, specialists, nurses, and other health care professionals dedicated to providing for our patients' health care needs.”
They go on to state that “when you join Northern California Medical Associates, you enter into a health care partnership that will last throughout your life - when you are sick and when you are well.” This was quoted by Bobbie from their website on February 22, 2007 found at the following URL http://www.ncmahealth.com/pages/1/index.htm
Northern California Medical Associates includes as its members most of the Santa Rosa’s Cardiologists, Rheumatologists and Internists. Since Bobbie cannot travel out of the area for healthcare due to being disabled, NCMA may be putting Bobbie’s life in jeopardy. Certainly they are failing to meet their own promises as they promote them on the World Wide Web. Since Dr. Avery’s surgical damage was so extensive and pervasive to Bobbie, she became very upset and concerned upon hearing the news that she was Blacklisted by the entire network. She cannot recall doing anything wrong in her interactions with Dr. Cooper other than disagreeing with the quality of his care in 2002. If Dr. Cooper did something to warrant a PUBLIC REPRIMAND by the Medical Board of California, why isn’t he “discharged” from NCMA as well, asks Bobbie?
DOES NORTHERN CALIFORNIA MEDICAL ASSOCIATES VIOLATE HIPAA AND A PATIENT’S RIGHT TO PRIVACY?
Erin Keller is the administrative director of Northern California Medical Associates. Ms. Jenke has asked for a copy of any and all computer generated patient information they have on her. She is still waiting for this to arrive in the mail. She was told by NCMA that if she called a doctor in their network, the computer would tell that physician’s office that Bobbie Jenke had been “DISCHARGED” by the Northern California Medical Associates, and therefore she would not be able to get an appointment. This could have serious medical consequences for Bobbie given the progressive and extensive nature of her injuries and given some of the symptoms she is having that remain undiagnosed.
Bobbie wonders if this “computer blacklisting” is ethical or even legal. On the Patient Privacy page of NCMA’s own website they claim, “Northern California Medical Associates has always supported and recognized our patients’ right to expect that their medical records and other information about their care will be kept confidential. For the past two years Northern California Medical Associates has been preparing to implement policies and procedures to comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) Privacy Regulations.” Ms. Jenke had this quote retyped directly from Northern California Medical Associates website on February 22, 2007 at the following URL. http://www.ncmahealth.com/pages/5/index.htm
Their web page goes on to say, “HIPAA privacy regulations give patients more control over their health information and also set boundaries on the use and release of patient information. The regulations also establish appropriate safeguards that all health care providers must achieve to protect the privacy of health information.” Bobbie does not feel her patient records are safe with Northern California Medical Associates, and if anything their system of electronically sharing patient records is detrimental to patients. It allows them to Blacklist patients in various physician and specialists offices at their own discretion throughout their network without disclosing this to the patient.
Bobbie has asked them to tell her in writing why she was “Discharged”, but so far they have refused to do so. They did however have Dr. Jack Waxman write her a letter of termination which she just received by “certified mail” on February 15, 2007. Bobbie does not understand why Dr. Jack Waxman would “terminate” her because when she saw him more than 5 years ago they got along fine. He also recently called her at home to answer her phone question about brachial neuropathy, and he left her a recorded message on her answering machine telling her to get her SED rate checked. Bobbie still has the tape recording of his message. She followed his advice, had her SED rate tested and found it was abnormally high, as well as her C Reactive Protein. But, now she cannot see Dr. Waxman to determine why her tests are abnormal.
If Dr. Waxman was willing to call Ms. Jenke at home to give her a medical recommendation regarding a specific medical concern of Bobbie’s, clearly he did not have a problem relating to Ms. Jenke. Bobbie assumes Northern California Medical Associates told Dr. Waxman he must write a letter terminating her from his care. (Bobbie remembered she had seen Dr. Waxman many years ago regarding a Fibromyalgia diagnosis Kaiser had given her. Bobbie didn’t feel she had fibromyalgia and after Dr. Waxman performed a thorough exam, he didn‘t feel that she had it either.)
Ms. Jenke always respected Dr. Waxman’s scientific research-based approach to medicine, so that is why she called him for his opinion more recently. Sadly, because of NCMA’s computer generated “blacklisting,” Bobbie is now refused much needed specialty care in her community where she now lives disabled with a serious medical condition.