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Elizabeth Cooney is a health reporter for the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.
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Monday, July 23, 2007

On the blogs: Joint Commission visit, euphemisms, privacy for immigrants

Surprise: On Running a Hospital, Paul Levy, president of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, says the Joint Commission, which accredits hospitals, showed up this morning for an unannounced visit. Until last year, these periodic reviews of safety and quality were scheduled in advance, but now hospitals get no warning. The accrediting body, which used to be called the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, will spend a week at the hospital.

"And, yes, we will publish our results once they go through the process of review at the Joint Commission headquarters," Levy writes.

Sugarcoating: On Healthy Children, Boston Medical Center pediatrician Dr. Steven Parker explores how doctors use euphemisms. Their intentions may be good, but they can end up creating confusion, he says.

"I know why this happens so often. Nice guys and compassionate to a fault, we pediatric providers hate to give bad news and avoid it when we can," he writes. "We think we are doing the family a favor: doesn't 'developmentally delayed' sound so much more hopeful, so much nicer, than 'mentally retarded?' "

HIPAA help: On WBUR's CommonHealth, Lori Abrams Berry of the Lynn Community Health Center worries that undocumented immigrants are being told that community health centers must report them to immigration officials if they seek health care.

"We need to find as many ways as we can to put the word out that community health centers are NOT obligated to report undocumented patients to immigration authorities," she writes. "On the contrary, HIPAA regulations actually prohibit us from giving information about our patients to anyone without their permission. (Who knew how handy this would turn out to be?)"

Posted by Elizabeth Cooney at 04:32 PM
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