Serious Offenses


Remember the movie Rainman where Dustin Hoffman whipped out his red book and wrote on his “Serious Injury List” how Charlie Babbitt “squeezed and pulled and hurt my neck“? If not, you have to rent that movie and watch it. One of my favorite all time movies.

Well, the lab supervisor recently descended upon the emergency department with her notebook of Serious Offenses in hand.

“Where’s the tech named ‘Maryann’?”
“She’s not here today.”
“I need to speak to her immediately.”
“What’s the problem?”
“She wrote the results of a patient’s pregnancy test on a patient’s chart, initialed them … AND SHE’S NOT QUALIFIED TO READ PREGNANCY TESTS! The Joint Commission will see this and we’ll get cited if this isn’t corrected! Can you call her at home?”
“Um. No. Can’t one of us sign it off?”
“No. I need to know who the nurse was taking care of the patient and have the nurse document on the patient’s chart that she was aware of the findings and notified the doctor of the findings.”
[With evil smirk in eye] “We can’t do that. That would be a HIPAA violation.”
The Overseer of All Lab Discrepancies Real or Imagined then developed a perplexed look on her face and left the emergency department.

Twelve year old kids can purchase a pregnancy test and interpret the results.
Visually impaired people can purchase a pregnancy test and interpret the results.
Three year old children can tell the difference between a plus sign and a minus sign.
Yet trained professionals need to be “certified” that they can tell “plus” from “minus” on pregnancy tests under the threat of JCAHO sanctions.


Oooh. That reminds me.
I have to renew my Medical Office Building Lightswitch User Certification and my Drinking Carbonated Liquids Through A Straw accreditation. Phew. Almost forgot.


  1. I wonder how many of these ridiculous “JCAHO rules” that I see mentioned are actually JCAHO rules (or good-faith misinterpretations by hospital admin), and how many are rules implemented by CYA-inspired hospital administrators who just pass the buck to the JCAHO supervillains.

    Not that it diminishes the ridiculous nature of things like this (ridiculousness? ridiculosity?)…

  2. *Sigh!* But funny post. And you won the battle.

    It is so frustrating ..that it seems in so many areas ..including the Gulf oil crisis ..people do know what to do and just want to do the job ..but bureaucratic red tape gets in the way.

    What would it take to make stop? Regardless of political leanings ..I liked it when LA Gov Jindal was willing to go to jail to put up barriers because *he* could *see* they couldn’t wait for the red tape to clear. Obviously’s a huge problem ..but sometimes it just takes one person to get the momentum going.

    I’m curious – do medical professionals ever take a formal stand against the inane ..time consuming nonsense ..or would you be blackballed as a troublemaker, etc.

    It just seems that more discussion is needed with the people in the trenches before some regulations are decreed as the new law of the system.

  3. Pingback: *More* Serious Offenses | WhiteCoat's Call Room

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