Freudian Slips: Fraud...It's Anybody's Game

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Location: Irony, New Jersey, United States

Life takes us many places. It's a box of chocolates and a Hansel and Gretal trail of candy wrappers. I have filmed as an actor in The Happening, Invincible, The Lovely Bones, The Bounty Hunter, The Greek American, Bazookas, Limitless, TV's Its Always Sunny in Philly, Outlaw, New York, The Warrior, The Nail, Game Change, Cold Case, & commercial work includes The Philadelphia Eagles, Septa, Coors, Turbo Tax & Carnival Cruises. Freudian Slips spotlights irony in short story format.

October 12, 2006

Fraud...It's Anybody's Game

In the wake of massive identity thefts infiltrating employees at my job, the following irony came to my immediate attention. In a doctor’s office, I signed in with the lovely receptionist. The first thing out of the receptionist’s mouth sounded like a military drill.
“Mr. Tornatore, could you use the phone in the waiting room to update your records?”
“I updated last month when I was here. I’m good for another year.”
“We changed our policy." she retorted. "Patients now need to update their information on a monthly basis. Use that phone over there to call the registrar.”
The first indication of it being a public phone is when people had to scurry from their seats for me to use it. In a game of musical chairs, the seating arrangement changed in order for me to access the phone. A strong indication of entrapment is when the designated phone is a corded landline that you can’t duck into a bathroom to whisper a private conversation. I dial the four-digit code and it connects me with a peppery male voice.
“What is your name?”
“Joseph Tornatore.” I proceed to spell my name heavy on one side of the vowel equation. The next question created an awakening inside me that oriented me to a crowded waiting room and identity theft.
“What is your birthdate? I need day, month, then year.”
“Look, I was told you needed to update my records. My birthdate has not changed. It is the same date from womb to tomb.”
Having endured this same torture ahead of me, people begin to chuckle in the waiting room. Apparently, I was not the only one who fell under a potentially fraudulent spotlight.
“Very well. Give me your social security number?”
I hicupped. "Running the risk of sounding like Captain Obvious, do you think my social security number is subject to change anymore than my birthdate? That too is a basket to casket.”
Every background actor’s dream, I now had an audience in the waiting room.
The voice into the receiver pressed, “I need this information, sir. For you to remain a patient, you need to adhere to our policy.”
“I have been very patient up until now. If you need to update my information you need to provide a private area to divulge personal information. Let me tell you this is no sanctuary. I’m standing in a waiting room with a dozen people in listening distance. I’m staring at a HIPAA privacy practice sign in your office the size of a movie poster and you are asking me my social security number and birthdate after I spelled out my full name letter by letter. Three people reached for pens as soon as I picked up this receiver. At the very least, you should be repeating my information to me, and I can agree or disagree.”
“We don’t give that information out." he assured. "We get it off you so we know who is receiving services today.”
I started to rile the waiting room patients up by repeating what was being said on the other end of the phone.

“Oh, you don't give that information out? So you want me to spill the beans. Why don’t you just put me on loudspeaker throughout the hospital and get it over with. Or you could take credit card applications in the office and when I call the registrar I can be asked my mother’s maiden name.”

“Sir, you are being difficult.”
“I may be difficult but I am trying to drive home my point. I’m a social worker sensitive to confidential information to unintended parties and this isn’t right. Either offer the dial in option where we can press A for no changes or find me a private place to blab. Look other patients have come into the waiting room. How about I hang up and go ride an empty elevator for privacy? You can ask me whatever you want when I call you back on my cell phone number. In case this line is tied up with more fools calling, what is your cell phone number where I can reach you?”
“I can’t give that to you.”
“See what I mean.”
I hung up the phone.

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14 Comments:

Anonymous marcus said...

Its a good thing that it was a doctors office where they REALLY understand the HIPAA privacy act and not Home Depot where you can get a 21% credit card with Osama Bin Laden's name on it.

9:41 PM  
Blogger Joe Tornatore said...

marcus,
sounds like you Bin there, done that.

12:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is hard to believe!!!!!!
Or second thought, maybe not..!!!!!
The world seems to have turned up-side down.

8:26 AM  
Blogger Joe Tornatore said...

Anonymous,
wish it were not true.

5:52 PM  
Blogger CSL said...

Or the pharmacy where you have your name called out to pick up a prescription, sign a publicly posted sheet of paper by a sticker with the prescription number on it, and wait as they loudly explain your medication(birth control pills, for instance) while other patients listen with great interest. Love that HIPAA compliance.

8:05 PM  
Blogger Joe Tornatore said...

Csl,
that's another posting for another day. lol

10:51 PM  
Blogger Amanda said...

wish I was that quick on my feet... great replies.

9:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

omg joe, you are joe too funny today. di

11:29 AM  
Blogger Joe Tornatore said...

Diane,
you are too kind.

Amanda,
I should have been quick on my feet out of there.

10:11 PM  
Blogger Merci said...

Gotta love it. I go to a "medical imaging" facility where they announce your full name and procedure to the entire waiting room.

7:26 AM  
Blogger Joe Tornatore said...

Merci,
I have a notion to forward my blog article to the HIPAA officer or like of that fine establishment. soory something similar happened to you.

10:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Joe - wish my doctor's visits were that entertaining :-) Serioulsy you should send this to HIPAA.

The other day I received a call from Discover card saying they needed to update my records. I said, "ok" what information do you need. He said with a heavy accent, "we need to verify your ssn, what is it?" "click" from my end.

My dear - we watched "Jackass" - It lived up to its name :-):-)

Cheers and all the best fo days to you
Nazli

2:29 PM  
Blogger honkeie2 said...

Common sense isnt so common these days I see. But if my doctor does this I now know how to handle it...thanks Joe!

3:02 PM  
Blogger Joe Tornatore said...

dr. Nazli,
i have on my to do list to contact a HIPAA liason for that establishment.

Honk,
Hope it doesn't happen to you.

8:17 PM  

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