No more first-baby-of-the-year announcements? I smell HIPAA

So here’s a New-Year’s-Day downer: fewer hospitals will announce the first baby of the year in 2015. The stated reason: fear over kidnapping and identity theft. But read the article and see if you can’t find evidence of the irrational HIPAA-generated fear culture that lurks in modern healthcare. The article dutifully states that safety concerns […]

So here’s a New-Year’s-Day downer: fewer hospitals will announce the first baby of the year in 2015. The stated reason: fear over kidnapping and identity theft. But read the article and see if you can’t find evidence of the irrational HIPAA-generated fear culture that lurks in modern healthcare.

The article dutifully states that safety concerns have become more important than tradition (because, as you know, healthcare typically puts safety second). Its main example is Community Health Systems, which told its facilities to stop announcing the first babies born in the new year.

“We know the birth of the new year baby is a joyous and exciting event, but protecting patient safety and privacy is our most important responsibility,” CHS spokesman Tomi Galin told the Associated Press.

But…

Has there been any identity theft? Galin told the Associated Press “that it was not a reaction to threats or abduction attempts.”

But what about the recommendation from National Center for Missing & Exploited Children about limiting information on public birth announcements?

“We’ve never given direction to hospitals that they shouldn’t” announce the first baby of the new year, the center’s Robert Lowery, stated in the article.

And kidnapping? It’s never been a problem and technology has largely taken care of the outliers. In most facilities, some version of a baby ankle bracelet will trip an alarm if a newborn leaves a tight, designated area of the hospital.

It’s another example of hospitals overreacting to risks that aren’t there, becoming killjoys and contributing to a culture that makes healthcare more bureaucratic.

I now pledge not to go to the hospital any more – a preventative measure to avoid MRSA.

[Photo from Flickr user Kenny Louie]