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HEALTH PLANS: Kaiser patient data release spat update

Sigh.  Well KP, an organization that (I repeat) I have much respect for, is not taking my advice in the tawdry little business of whether they or the Gadfly released patient data onto the Internet. If you go to the Gadfly’s website you’ll see both that she has received a notice from Kaiser’s lawyers about an impending court date which presumably will order her to take her mirror site down (something that should please Kaiser), and has requests from two more journalists for interviews (something that probably won’t please Kaiser).

Can calmer heads prevail here? Are there any on either side?

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  1. The Anonymous person is right – it is incredibly difficult to fire someone at KP. That’s why I was fired one week before the end of my six month probationary period – so I wouldn’t be protected the normal rules that protect Kaiser employees. I was not, however, a new person who just didn’t fit. I had been working in the same job for a year before I was hired, and I’d already proven both my capabilities and my ability to get along with everyone.
    I do agree that Kaiser took only the data they had control over off the web. The issue is that they got off the hook with the OCR by claiming to have control over the data, and they don’t have control over it.
    //archiving it to a CD rom or something//
    Then no one would have ever known about it.
    //do you call in the inspectors, or do you just create an earthquake and laugh as the building falls down?//
    I did call the inspectors: politicians, media, the GAO, the Ways and Means Committee. For my own case I went through all the painstakingly slow processes, including Kaiser’s own laughable “Dispute Resolution Process”. When I was fired, I did not run out and get a lawyer: I patiently followed the rules Kaiser wanted to set for seven months. This could have been handled quietly. Kaiser is the one who chose to push for the Earthquake.
    //One thing is for sure, given her actions, it would be hard to imagine anyone trusting her enough to hire her again.//
    Well, no one was ever going to hire me again, anyway. I didn’t have a recommendation from my last employer, and I’m not supposed to point out that I had a bad manager in interviews. What’s the difference now?
    I wish someone would care that Kaiser broke my trust, that Kaiser broke the law in the way I was terminated, that Kaiser destroyed evidence. I value loyalty as much as anyone else, but how far can that loyalty go when the employer isn’t worthy of trust? You are right about the consequences for me, but they are unjust consequences since I would have proven a faithful employee in a situation where my employer wasn’t a lying, cheating scoundrel who has done immeasurable damage to my life – and not because I did anything wrong, but to cover up for a bad manager.

  2. Well, as a KP employee who is now being thrashed about over security because of this incident, I thought I’d add 2 cents.
    1) Gadfly/Diva of Disgruntled/Whoever they are seems to be very peeved at the fact she was terminated…but given her actions to date, I empathize with the people who fired her. I’ve worked for KP for years, and it’s typically incredibly hard to fire someone…and rarely done without great reason. (The exceptions to the rule are usually middle management “fall on your sword” decrees, when someone has to take the blame for poor results…but even then, it is the captain’s job to go down with the ship…) She is definitely out for blood, and I just can’t respect that, as reasonable as it may seem to her.
    2) One of the things she mentions is the fact that kaiser lied about taking the data down off the web…and uses as an example of the lie a mirror she made of the data. I’m sorry, but I think it’s more than reasonable to make the statement “the data is no longer on the web” with the implication “where we have control over the data”.
    3) She seems to argue that she’s made mirrors of this data so that Kaiser didn’t get away “scott free”. Well, this could have been done without republishing it, archiving it to a CD rom or something. Although I’m just as willing to make the claim that information wants to be free, in this case she’s gone over the ethical line. It’s almost like trying to get a landlord in trouble about having a building that isn’t up to code in the case of an earthquake…do you call in the inspectors, or do you just create an earthquake and laugh as the building falls down?
    Kaiser has problems with data security, just like any large bureaucratic organization. We have systems that have evolved in odd ways over time, and making everything better is not going to happen in one big bang. Her criticisms in many ways are valid, but her methods do little to enhance her argument. Kaiser is flawed, but believe it or not, it’s filled with enough hopeful people that I believe despite the errors it may have committed, it is generally well intentioned and a positive force in the world.
    One thing is for sure, given her actions, it would be hard to imagine anyone trusting her enough to hire her again. In the end I think this story will be one of tragedy and how one’s obession with revenge only ends up hurting oneself.

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