Thursday, October 4, 2012

UCLA Radiology Department--Who's in charge of losing my X-rays?

I'm trying to figure out how--or why--ALL my digital X-rays got "lost" at UCLA.

[Update October 20, 2012: It seems that UCLA wants to protect Kaiser from having to answer questions about this problem at Kaiser Permanente's new Garfield Specialty Center in San Diego. My UCLA primary care doctor explained it to me, saying, "You need to forget about Kaiser." She was worried that I might "have a case against Kaiser."]

It appears that I have these people to thank for my X-rays being unavailable:

UCLA RADIOLOGY DEPARTMENT

Dieter R. Enzmann, M.D.
"Leo G. Rigler" Chair and Professor (What's up with that Cheshire Cat smile? He looks like he might have swallowed my X-rays.)
Brenda Izzi, R.N., M.B.A.
Chief Administrative Officer and head of Radiology Image Library
(310) 481-7516 (310) 794-8056
BIzzi@mednet.ucla.edu
(From the look on her face, I think she knows where those X-rays are.)







Brenda Jones, Director of Radiology Image Library


UCLA MEDICAL RECORDS DEPARTMENT

The head of the Medical Records Department won't even let employees give out his or her name. Perhaps the Los Angeles Times article at the bottom of this post explains the desire for anonymity.

Katherine Mair, special project manager (Her existence might be just a rumor, but I suspect she's simply too important to deal with missing X-rays.)

Erik Lozano--contractor (He had his door closed, and later was in a meeting.)

Pazzette McCray, contractor, manager 310 825 9381 (She ignored all my messages.)

Erika, contractor (She was the only one who would talk to me, but I don't think she was authorized to say much. I'm sure that's difficult for her. As far as I know, she's the only one earning her pay.)

See more information HERE.


UPDATE October 5, 2012

I got the following email this morning, but I'll believe that Ms. Izzi is sincere when I have the digital images in my possession. Erika Lee told me that the images can be burned to a CD within a day. That means they could also be sent in an email within a day. Anyone want to bet that I don't get all the digital images today? (Note to UCLA: it doesn't count if you print out an image, then scan it. You remove a huge amount of detail when you do that.)

Dear Ms. Larkins,
I am happy to look into any imaging provided by Radiology and ensure you can obtain copies of those studies. I have asked my Director of the Image Library to research your concern.
I will let you know what we uncover.
Sincerely,
Brenda
Brenda M. Izzi, RN, MBA
Chief Administrative Officer
UCLA Radiology



I SENT MS. IZZI THIS EMAIL IN RESPONSE:

Dear Ms. Izzi:

It is ridiculous for your department to claim that X-rays might have gotten misplaced inside Dr. Raz's office. The Chair of the Radiology Department, Dr. Enzmann, states "the Department of Radiological Sciences is completely digital." The digital images are available on your computers, and it's simply false to say that they aren't there.

Also, please don't print out a few images, then scan them, and then call them the original digital images. You remove a huge amount of detail when you do that. By law you must provide all the videos and all the original still images. Your department has been in violation of the law for almost two weeks.

It is also shameful for your department to claim that my September 18, 2012 Request for Images was not received. I have a FAX transmission report with a photocopy of the Request to prove that you received my Request on Sept. 18.

I assume you are talking about Brenda Jones when you refer to your Director. Surely she has been researching this matter for the past three days, since Erika Lee sent a FAX on October 2, 2012 asking that my request be prioritized? Isn't Brenda Jones the person who told her subordinates to tell me that no images were available? I suggest you look into this matter yourself, Ms. Izzi.

Sincerely,
Maura Larkins



THE PLOT THICKENS ON FRIDAY AFTERNOON, OCT. 5, 2012

Apparently Brenda Izzi and Katherine Mair and the mysterious head of Medical Records decided that the best response to the situation was to make up a bizarre story in which they would claim that images don't exist, and if they did, they wouldn't be able to release them.

So why would UCLA, a public entity, pay all these people in Medical Records and the Radiology Image Library to do nothing? Well, they don't exactly do nothing. They actually work very hard. It can't be easy to conduct phone calls like the following one.

THE CONFERENCE CALL

On Oct. 5, 2012 at 4:50 p.m. I became part of a conference call with Ms. P. M. and the elusive Mr. E. L. of UCLA’s Medical Records office.

When I had called the office on October 2, 2012, a receptionist had gone to ask E. L. to talk to me, but then she came back and told me that his door was closed.

P. M. had ignored my messages for several days, but when I called earlier today, she had picked up the phone and talked to me.

Only P. M. spoke in the beginning of our conference call, and I began to wonder if E. L. was actually on the line. "Are you there, E.?" I asked. Then I heard his voice for the first time.

From all this I concluded that E. L. must actually be P. M.'s superior, rather than her subordinate, as I had assumed when told that P. M. was the "manager." I figure the higher-ups tell their subordinates what to say, but they don't like to actually talk to patients themselves.

In fact, I suspect that there may have been others on the line during the call who never said anything. I think B. J. was probably on the line, since she called me back just minutes after the following call. I also think that the people who were calling the shots did not speak to me at all. I think E. L., P. M. and B. J. are all following orders.

Here's my transcript of the call:


P. M.: ...I called the physician [Dr. Raz] and was told that they don't make videos in that office.

[Maura Larkins comment: I knew this statement was false. I saw the videos myself on the computer monitor as they were being taken.]

P. M.: The X-rays are the physician's product to release. We're not experts and we're not able to release it. He's a private physician.

[Maura Larkins comment: I knew that all these claims were false, too. It says on the UCLA website that the Radiology Image Library releases images on CD for free, and that it does so within 5 days of the request--because this is what is required by California law. All X-rays at UCLA are digitized, and the Radiology Image Library has access to all X-rays. In further proof, Dr. Raz's office had given me the phone number of the Radiology Image Library and told me to call that number to get copies of my images.

Also, UCLA doctors are public employees, hired by the Regents of the University of California, NOT private doctors.]


Maura: No one in your department knows California law regarding medical records?

McCray: We can not provide patient information. Erika (Lee) was being kind in trying to help you out.

Maura: (repeating the unanswered question) No one in your department knows what California law is regarding medical records?

P. M.: We know the law.

Maura: Why are you disobeying the law?

P. M.: Miss Larkins, we do not release information from a private physician.

Maura: I didn't get everything you said written down in my notes here. P. M., you said you spoke to Dr. Raz?

P. M.: E. L. called Dr. Raz's office. The number he called was 310 794 0206.

Maura: E. L., did you speak to Dr. Raz? Did he say they don't make videos in his office?

E. L.: His office said that they don't make videos.

Maura: Who was it who said that?

E. L.: I don't have her name written down. A woman said they don't make videos. If they do make videos, we don't have access.

[Maura Larkins comment: I can't believe that anyone in Dr. Raz's office would claim that they don't make videos. But it does appear that for some reason Dr. Raz's office didn't want the videos released, and Medical Records came up with this cover story. Why wouldn't a doctor want a video of abdominal X-rays released? This is all very bizarre.]

Maura: E. L., are you a contractor?

E. L.: Yes.

Maura: P. M., are you a contractor?

McCray: Yes.


MAYBE I SHOULD ASK THE NATIONAL ENQUIRER TO GET MY RECORDS FROM UCLA; THEY SEEM TO HAVE BETTER LUCK

UCLA hospitals to pay $865,500 for breaches of celebrities' privacy
July 08, 2011
By Molly Hennessy-Fiske
Los Angeles Times

UCLA Health System has agreed to pay $865,500 as part of a settlement with federal regulators announced Thursday after two celebrity patients alleged that hospital employees broke the law and reviewed their medical records without authorization.

...Violations allegedly occurred at all three UCLA Health System hospitals — Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica UCLA Medical Center and Orthopaedic Hospital and Resnick Neuropsychiatric Hospital, according to UCLA spokeswoman Dale Tate...The same month, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office for Civil Rights began investigating alleged violations of the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act at the hospitals, according to the settlement agreement.

Investigators found that UCLA employees examined private electronic records "repeatedly and without a permissible reason" in 2005 and 2008, including an employee in the nursing director's office, according to the agreement reached Wednesday.

..."Our patients' health, privacy and well-being are of paramount importance to us," said Dr. David T. Feinberg, chief executive of the UCLA Hospital System. "...We remain vigilant and proactive to ensure that our patients' rights continue to be protected at all times."

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