Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Coming Out

Remember dragnet?
"The stories you are about to see are true. The names have been changed to protect the innocent."

About that…

Recently, I made the decision to include my :::gasp!::: real name on my blogs (of which I write several, on different topics).
I did so because on one of them, it's fairly important that people know who is writing it, and when someone I know recently commented on a post somewhere, it became clear that she had no idea I had written it.
I knew it would make the change to all of the blogs associated with the same account, and rather than go through contortions to move any, I decided to just use my name.

So all two of you who read this blog- and the one of you who might not have already known who I am- now you know.

I'm pretty comfortable with my decision, largely because I don't post stupid stuff online that would cause me, or anyone else, problems.

But just in case it worries anyone, I thought I'd make a brief (ha!) post about it.

HIPAA.
Yes.
That.

When I write stories for my blog (or anywhere), I'm not about to violate anyone's privacy. I wouldn't do so, even if there wasn't a law prohibiting it.

My stories are "loosely based" on real stories, in the same way many movies, TV shows, and novels are, with one important difference.

The question here is, how do I retain the "heart" of a story, while making it absolutely unidentifiable? Most "based on" situations don't have that requirement, but I do.

Fortunately for me, I learned a lot about this years ago, from a friend who is a television writer. She used to share with me all the revisions of a particular script, so I could see all the change it went through. Maybe they can't get a particular actor that week, so can't use that character. Maybe they can't get a location to match what was written, so need to change it. Maybe they can't afford a certain special effect. Maybe the director or actors have ideas they want incorporated into the story. And so on.

It was very interesting to me to see that through all the many changes, for many different reasons, the MEANING of the story stayed. The emotional content remained. 

That is what I try to do.
I write stories because of how they affect me. The story is about what I learned, or what I felt, or what I think is important, rather than about the patient or their specific medical situation.

So I make a lot of changes.
I change ages.
Change locations.
Change seasons.
Sometimes, I change genders, but not always- because if I always did, that would be the same as never changing!
I may add, or take away, family members.
I may add, or take away, pets.
I may add in specific details that weren't actually there.
I may even change the medical condition, or the signs and symptoms, sometimes almost entirely. Often, they aren't the point, at all.
Sometimes I combine several stories into one, as if they all happened to one person.
I never post about anything close in time to when it happened.

I live in a small town.
Tiny.
Even leaving out names and locations, it would be far too easy for some of my patients to be identified, so I don't write about those, at all. It means there are good stories I can never tell, but that's the way it is.
It is not possible to read any of my stories and identify any specific person or situation.
Sometimes, I go back and read through earlier posts, and even I can't recall what call or patient was the catalyst for the story.

Just sayin', in case anyone plans to go all HIPAA on my ass, or something.  :-)

1 comment:

  1. I had stopped checking here sometime before you resumed posting last year. Decided to do so today just to see if there were any updates, and it looks like I missed some activity.

    Just wanted to wish you well and say that I do hope to see more from you. Your blog has always been one of my favorites.

    ReplyDelete