My husband and I spent a good part of our Saturday afternoon at our local hospital’s ER. One of the forms my husband had to sign was a Privacy Statement, detailing the hospital’s protocol on how they would protect my husband’s privacy. My husband was signing this while we were sitting in a room with a curtain partially closed, shielding us from the hallway outside and another curtain used as a partition from where another patient was sitting a few feet from us.
A physician’s assistant came to ask my husband why he came to the ER and other detailed questions about his medical history. Of course, the patient a few feet away could hear just about every word my husband was saying, if he chose to do so, including my husband’s first and last name, address, personal info, etc. I also couldn’t help noticing that ER workers were helping an elderly man on a gurney in the hallway. I could see most of what was happening through a gap in the curtain and could hear most of what they were talking about. I tried not to listen but I knew full well that they were giving him an EKG and that he had been feeling weird for most of the day and they were getting a room ready for him.
When the physician’s assistant was finished asking my husband questions, she went over to the patient on the other side of the curtain. We heard all about the fact that he had a herniated disk, some type of abscess on his back and was limping because of all this. We even heard that he did some type of construction work and was on Medical.
My husband eventually had X-rays and was informed of his condition, for anyone nearby to hear. I was just thankful that we hadn’t come in with something embarrassing or highly personal.