Another nursing home employee Snapchats a naked resident

Kara DeVaux
Kara DeVaux

24-year-old Kara DeVaux is accused of allegedly recording a nursing home resident naked on Snapchat in Michigan City, Indiana.

According to court documents the video depicted an 85-year-old dementia patient naked in the shower while the staff sprayed her with water. Witnesses to the video told supervisors they heard DeVaux’s voice in the recording saying “look at this crazy bitch she doesn’t like taking showers.”

As is usual with Snapchat stories the video didn’t quite disappear and someone was able to take a screen grab of the video. There was also allegedly a picture of the woman on Daveaux’s Snapchat that had the caption “She f***ing hates showers. S***.”

As I’ve mentioned before not only is this blatant degradation of some of the most helpless members of our society but it’s also a blatant violation of the medical privacy laws in our country known as HIPAA. As someone who has worked in the healthcare field since the advent of HIPAA I can tell you the penalties for violating HIPAA are no joke. They can result in substantial monetary fines and jail time. Whole Davaux has been charged with felony voyeurism and misdemeanor sale, distribution or exhibition of obscene matter she may want to be more concerned about what may happen if the feds decide they want to pursue violation of HIPAA charges.

Nursing home employee accused of taking Snapchat video of naked resident

snapchat

21-year-old Grace Riedlinger,of Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin, is accused of allegedly taking a video of a partially dressed resident of a Kenosha nursing home then sharing it on the photo and video sharing app Snapchat.

From Kenosha News

The woman in the video is 93 years old and has Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. She was unable to tell police what had happened, the complaint states.

Police viewed the video, which showed the woman sitting on a bed, wearing only a bra.

When Riedlinger talked to police she said the woman had been giving her a hard time while she tried getting the woman ready for bed. She said the woman was playing tug of war with her, and decided to record it and post it as a story on Snapchat.

Unfortunately this not a new crime. Since the advent of the cell phone camera some unscrupulous nursing home employees have been engaged in this illegal behavior. Not only is this blatant degradation of some of the most helpless members of our society but I would imagine it’s also a blatant violation of the medical privacy laws in our country known as HIPAA. Having worked in the healthcare industry for half of my life I can tell you that HIPAA penalties are no joke and can carry some hefty fines or jail time. I would imagine that the nursing home’s lawyers are scrambling right now.

Before my mom passed she had to spend some time in a nursing facility for physical therapy. Because of things like this my brother took turns spending as much time with her there as we could to make sure nothing like this could occur. If you have a loved one or relative in such a facility think about spending an entire day with them just to see what is going on in their facility. I realize that not all nursing homes or nursing home employees are like this. It turned out my mom was in a great facility with amazing people working there however, it will only cost you some time to help keep one of your loved ones safe.

James Holmes is no friend to mental illness

James Holmes
James Holmes

After his arrest for the movie theater murders in Aurora, Colorado, a number of James Holmes fangirls showed up on the internet, mostly Tumblr, because…well…it’s Tumblr. Having dealt with a murder groupie or two in my time I wrote about the self-proclaimed ‘Holmies’ here.

With his recent conviction this article from Slate by Amanda Hess revisits with the Holmies to see if their attitude has changed towards their mass-murdering heartthrob. Surprisingly it has but not necessarily for the better. A number of them now see him as some sort of martyr for mental illness in this country. As someone who suffers from depression and anxiety on a daily basis let me make it clear that in no way, shape or form should this assclown be used as the poster boy for mental illnesses. To do so would be wrong for a number of different reasons.

First to portray him as some sort of sympathetic figure is akin to excusing him for the brutal murders of 12 innocent people. Secondly, there’s enough of a stigma against mental illnesses already that this would make people think that anyone with even the slightest psychological defect is a potential mass murderer. Lastly and most importantly it would further discourage people suffering from a mental illness from seeking treatment lest they be thought a danger to those around them.

If you want to make anyone the spokesperson for mental illness and treatment make it the person who suffers in silence since no one around them can understand how they’re feeling and who receive advice like “Have you tried not being depressed?” by people who don’t know any better.

Why is Autism the bogeyman of Luddites?

autism

For those of you who may not know what a Luddite is can read up on them here. Its more modern connotation is someone who is anti-science or anti-technology. So in my opinion it’s a fitting term for not only those who wield Autism as a weapon to forward some kind of anti-science agenda but also for those who fear Autism like it’s tantamount to the Black Death.

In the past Autism has been used as a reason why parents shouldn’t vaccinate their kids, which has been debunked by the way. It’s been used as a way to try to get women to not take anti-depressants. It’s been argued that it can be a cause of school shootings. All of those accusations are patently ridiculous but it doesn’t end there. Recently I read an article, from a website I used to think was reliable, that linked circumcision to Autism. The one commonality that these things have in common is that they all have factions that are dogmatically opposed to these practices. In the case of school shootings it’s defense lawyers looking for an easy out.

What makes these factions so effectual are the ignorant masses who are so deathly afraid of their kids getting Autism that they’ll buy just about any snake oil they think will protect them. In this case the old adage is true that people fear what they don’t understand. There are worse things than your kid having Autism, like having them die from a horrible disease that was once thought eradicated.

Autism is not some kind of punishment from God. It doesn’t mean you did something wrong prior to your child’s birth. It doesn’t mean your kid will become a mass murderer. Most importantly it does not mean that your child will be some kind of Hollywood stereotype of an Autistic that just rocks back and forth and screams.

I know several parents who have Autistic children and the majority of them are intelligent and artistic kids who just need a little bit of special attention. I’ve known some that have grown up to be more than productive members of society.

If someone tries to tell you that such and such causes Autism take pity on them for they’re obviously incapable of thinking rationally.

The FDA hates asthmatics

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For years if not decades if an asthmatic needed emergency relief they could use the over the counter inhaler Primatene Mist. Four years ago the FDA forced Primatene Mist off the market for the harm its CFC propellant was causing harm the ozone even though by environmentalist standards the actual damage was infinitesimal.

R.I.P.
R.I.P.

Then came along Asthmanefrin. While its atomizer was a piece of junk that constantly broke down it was at least an option of relief for asthmatics. That was until recently. Today I was having asthma issues and went to several pharmacies looking for the EZ Breathe Atomizer. All the stores I went to had the refills but not the atomizer. There wasn’t even a place on the shelves for it.

atomizer

I went to the Asthmanefrin website and all they had listed on there was the box of refills and no atomizer. How is anyone supposed to use the medication without the atomizer? Not to mention that there has been no mention about any kind of any discontinuation or recent recall anywhere.

I went to various asthma related websites and forums and all that anybody knew were vague rumors that the FDA had the atomizer quietly pulled off the market leaving asthmatics with no over the counter relief options. While I can not verify that it does make a lot of sense.

Prescription inhalers are very expensive and the pharmaceutical companies know that they have asthmatics over a barrel. We need to pay their exorbitant prices or else we won’t be able to, you know, breathe. So they can’t have any OTC alternatives, that in my opinion are more effective, cutting into their market share and the pharmaceutical cabal can have a strong lobbying presence influencing policy at the expense of suffering patients.

Meanwhile I’m still having trouble breathing.

The Company That HIPAA forgot

hipaa

As a lot of you know I was unemployed for most of 2014. Back in November I was offered a job in a pharmaceutical call center and I took it. I figured with my experience in the healthcare field this job will be a piece of cake.

When my training class started the company emphasized how important to them HIPAA was. For those of you who may not know HIPAA stands for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. In a nutshell it’s the federal law that protects your private personal health information. If an individual provider or practice or corporation is caught violating HIPAA guidelines hefty fines and jail sentences can be imposed. In my career I’ve been dealing with HIPAA for a while now and understood the gravity of the position my new employer was taking.

For example we were not allowed to have our cell phones out on the call center floor due to fear of someone using it to steal personal information. That’s understandable. I’ve worked at a couple of companies that had similar policies. Then we were told that we could have no pens or paper on the floor so no one could write any personal information down. Instead we were given small white boards and dry erase markers. I thought that was a little extreme since sometimes you have to write things down in order to assist the patient or customer with their request. In other offices there were bins that we dumped all our paper in at the end if the day that would eventually be shredded. But again, I sort of understood where they were coming from. Finally we were told we could have no bags on the floor. No backpacks or purse or what have you. If you absolutely had to bring belonging out on to the floor they had to be in some form of transparent bag. To me this was a little more than extreme so I did some research and found out that the company was fined heavily by the government when one of its former employees was caught stealing and selling personal health information. At that point I assumed that they were just covering all their bases when it came to HIPAA. Then we started taking calls.

During our first week on the call center floor my training class was not authorized to take calls because of an IT snafu so we listened in on the calls of another class who started the same time we did. In the past I may have said that HIPAA was an answer to a question that no one asked but it’s been the law of the land for the while now. You wouldn’t have been able to tell with the calls I heard. The CSR’s were giving out all sorts of personal information to parties that should have not had that kind of access. They weren’t doing it maliciously but no trainer, coach or supervisor was correcting them. When I asked a higher-up about it I was basically told that the new hires have 30 days on the floor before they start cracking down on things like that? That may be great for the new hires but they’re talking to real patients who have real medical needs whose real personal information was being given to unauthorized parties with no repercussions.

Shortly into the 2nd week of being on the call center floor I walked out. I wish I could say it was all due to the flagrant violation of federal privacy laws but it was a rather large part of it. The really sad part is a lot of customers of this company have no idea that their information is being given out so freely.

Why living with anxiety is like being punched in the face

anxiety

The cartoon I posted above does a pretty good job of representing what it’s like to live with anxiety issues but no matter how clever the cartoon is it can’t really show how people with anxiety problems really feel. Someone with no issues may see that cartoon and think that anxiety only happens infrequently while a lot of us live with it on a constant basis. I’m going to try to explain how it really feels.

Imagine that every day when you woke up you had to be punched in the face. You constantly know it’s coming and there’s nothing you can do to stop it. However if you somehow manage to not get punched in the face there’s a good chance that you’ll lose everyone and everything you love. Sometimes you feel like you’re not getting punched in the face enough or you feel like that no one appreciates that you’re getting punched in the face for them. You can’t tell anyone you’re being punched in the face daily for fear of looking weak or like a complainer. This is how I felt every day for as long as I can remember even when I was a small child in grade school. Just once I’d like to wake up without having that twitchy and flinching feeling knowing that the punch in the face is imminent. Instead, I and countless others put on this false face to try to convince everyone else that everything is ok even though just underneath the surface we are screaming for help. On those rare occasions we do ask for help a lot of times we’re met with eyerolls as to say “Well, just stop having anxiety” as if we wouldn’t switch it off if we could. I often lose sleep over it with the logic that if I don’t go to sleep I won’t have to wake up and be punched in the face. It affects your work too sometimes to the point of an almost paralytic fear but employers don’t want to hear “I’m sorry for my poor performance, you should feel lucky that I even came in today since I constantly have the fear of God in me.” Which leads to more punches in the face that your family and friends wonder why you just can’t take the punches. But you really do want to be able to take the punches. You want to be ‘normal’. You want to be like other people who can roll out of bed with no problem, duck the punch and carry on with the rest of their day. Instead we just keep getting punched in the face with every fiber of our physical being craving some kind of release from this personal hell that we know may only come at the end of our days.

I didn’t post this for sympathy. This is the internet after all and I know where to find it in the dictionary. I posted it in hopes that if you know someone who suffers from anxiety you can have at least a modicum of understanding for what they’re going through.

Trench on ‘surprise’ medical charges

medical-billing

Lately an article from the New York Times about surprise medical charges has been making the rounds on Facebook. Once again people are taking the article at face value without doing any further research. Luckily for you I’m here to tell you the real deal as I call upon my 20+ years experience in the healthcare field. If you doubt my credentials they just happen to be that I worked for a major health insurance company for ten years and for the next 15 I’ve been working in various medical clerical positions mostly including medical billing.

The article seems to be mostly focused on one man’s plight when he received a rather astronomical bill for a surgery that he had. The charge was for an assistant surgeon who was out of his insurance’s network. The article gives the impression that there is no recourse even though there is.

First off this is a rare occurrence in my experience. If you going to have surgery in a hospital that is in your network and the primary surgeon is in your network then the odds are that the assistant surgeon will be in your network too. If the assistant surgeon is not in your network a majority of the time the insurance company is willing to make a deal with the doctor and most doctor’s offices are more than willing to work with the insurance company. The article also seems to give the impression that doctor’s will know ahead of time if they’ll need an assistant surgeon. Usually an assistant surgeon is called in during the surgery when an anomaly or difficulty is discovered. Also if you read deep into the article you’ll find that the man’s insurance company did end up paying the assistant surgeon’s fee.

Here’s the one tip that everybody needs to keep in mind. Doctor’s do not know how billing procedures work. They are usually too involved in treating the patient to worry about each individual insurance policy covers. That’s what medical billers and coders are for and most of us bust our asses to get the most benefit from your insurance company.

Self-harm hashtags

hashtag

Any social network worth its salt these days allows its users to use hashtags. For the uninitiated hashtags are keywords that allow users to find other posts with similar interests and are usually preceded by the pound sign (#). Unfortunately some of those interests may be detrimental to the user.

In the past I’ve talked about certain self-harming behaviors like the pro-ana movement. That’s where people, mostly young girls, believe that eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia are lifestyle choices and use ‘Thispiration’ or thinspo for short as their rallying cry. Other self-harm behaviors I have not talked much about before are self-cutting or self-mutilation and the ultimate self-harming, suicide.

In the past some social networks have banned certain hashtags that promote self-harm such as Tumblr and Instagram. However those in the self-harming community are supposedly using new and supposedly secret hashtags like #sue and #secretsociety123.

This is all part of a much larger problem than just teens on social sites. In this day and age of alleged social enlightenment there is still a stigma on mental health treatment. Just because your son or daughter may need mental health treatment that does not make them broken or any less of a person. And if you are a teen and you know someone who is seeking or receiving mental health treatment you should be giving them your support. Self-harm in any way shape or form is not normal or healthy. If you are self-harming please get off of the social sites where there are triggers abound and ask your parents or school about finding resources to get help.

There is no shame in wanting to get better.

Suicide is selfish

typeonegativesuicide

So as we all have heard by now a renowned celebrity killed himself recently. When my wife told me the news I said that I don’t get it. She said to me that I of all people should get it. What she means is that I suffer from depression, horribly. Also in my younger years I have attempted suicide. I tried in my teens because of a hellish situation at home and in my mid 20s because I experienced a drastic life change for the worse at the time. I have not made any attempts since then. That’s not to say the thought never enters my mind but I digress.

Getting back to the celebrity in question, the reason I don’t get it is because as far as I can tell he had the means and resources to get help. I’ve heard reports that he committed suicide due to financial issues but how bad could they have been? Would they be to the level where he would have to live on the street? I doubt it. I’m not faulting him for being successful in his career but he should have taken advantage of that success in order to get help.

Suicide mostly has to do with mental illness, no one knows that better than me, however it is also an act of selfishness. No matter who you are if you take your own life it will have repercussions among those closest to you for years to come and may affect someone in a negative way for the rest of their life.

Take me for example. Like I’ve mention ad nauseam I suffer from depression. I take medication for it which helps but there are still bad days. For example right now I’m unemployed. I have been for the past 7 months. I didn’t work at my previous job, which was a temp job, long enough to be able to collect unemployment. What little money I’m able to scrounge up comes from panhandling to friends and strangers on the internet. I can’t even get hired by retail or fast food let alone my own field.

My car is in a serious state of disrepair. Because of my financial situation I am unable to get the car repaired which means I can’t get inspected or registered for the year. Because of that the car has been ticketed multiple times for having expired tags. In less than 30 days I have to do one of the following, pay a $250 fine which only delays getting ticketed again, turn in the tags which leaves me with no transportation, or go to jail for not doing the previous two.

Speaking of my meds, I have to ration them because I don’t know when I’ll be able to afford them again or be able to afford a visit to the doctor’s.

The past seven months have been very hard not only on me but my family as well and yes there are some days where I’m so depressed that I pray for the release of death. A situation like this I’m sure has broken people before but I persevere. I have to. There is no other way. I have no choice. I have a family who would be devastated if I were to take my own life. I care for them too much to ever do that to them no matter how bleak my situation gets. I don’t tell you this for your pity, I tell you this because suicide is not a normal or healthy thought.

If you are considering suicide I urge you to get mental help as quick as you can. There’s no shame in admitting that you need help.