this post should be filed under the ‘is it me?’ category, if I had one
A friend has been admitted to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford (hereafter known as ‘the JR’, which is nothing to do with fictional Texas-based oilmen, obv).
My first thought:
Holy shit, she’s so young! (she’s still at school)
My second thought:
Go see her and take some chocolate!
So I stuffed a large bag of large Cadbury’s Chocolate Buttons (yes, two larges back there) in to my laptop rucksack, for one of those days when I could stretch some time to visit the JR.
Today was one of those days.
On my way through Oxford I diverted to the JR and (miraculously) found a parking space.
I schlepped (this is becoming my new favourite word) in to reception, walked up to the desk and gave the receptionist my most beamingest of smiles.
‘My friend [firstname] [surname] has been admitted [with condition]. Could you tell me which ward she’s in so I can drop in this Get Well Card and some chocolate?’ I asked, waving an envelope and bag of chocolate.
‘Can you tell me what you are to her?’
‘I’m a friend.’
‘No. I can’t tell you that’, replied the antipodean receptionist (she wasn’t actually in the antipodes, she was from there, but sitting in the JR).
My jaw thudded on to the desk.
‘Really??’ I responded, actually fitting two question marks in.
‘That would be a breach of our patient confidentiality rules’, said The Guardian Of Patient Confidentiality (who I had mistakenly assumed to be a helpful receptionist).
She could sense my incredulity.
‘I’m not making this up!’ she flung in my face.
‘Hang on,’ I said nicely. ‘I’ve already told you the patient’s first name and her surname. I’ve told you the condition she has been admitted under. I can tell you her address. I can tell you she’s here. And yet you are telling me – for reasons of confidentiality – that you can’t tell me which ward I need to go to, to deliver this card and these chocolates??????????’
I could sense the receptionist counting each of those question marks (ten, in case you’re interested).
‘That’s what I’m telling you’.
I was tempted to ask which hospital directive she was following – and could she show me this directive in print – but I was so stunned at this new definition of ‘confidentiality’, that I picked my jaw up off the desk, turned around and left reception.
I stood outside the doors, in plain site of The Guardian Of Patient Confidentiality, pulled out my phone, called the patient, and asked which ward she was imprisoned on.
The I walked straight in to reception, past The Guardian Of Patient Confidentiality, walked down the corridor and in to the lift.
As I walked out of the lift to my friend’s ward I wondered what would have happened, a few minutes ago, if I had lied about my relationship and had said I was the patient’s step-brother or cousin, would The Guardian Of Patient Confidentiality have granted me the information I had asked for?
Or would The Guardian Of Patient Confidentiality have interrogated me, in tiny detail, over my friend’s physical and mental characteristics, until I eventually fluffed a question, and would she then have thrown me in to Hospital prison?
But seriously, on the simple say-so of ‘I’m related to this person’, or ‘I’m not related to this person’, this is now a point of patient confidentiality?
picks up jaw and wanders off muttering how much the Daily Mail would love this story