Pettus Finds No Privacy at Doctor’s Office

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Over the last few weeks, I must have read the words from the 1974 Privacy Act several hundred times, thanks to a bad back and several trips to doctors’ offices. It seems for every visit I make, there are more forms to fill out and the “opportunity” to keep my privacy to myself. Over my recent visits alone, an entire renewable forest must have been cut down somewhere to create the paper to make the reams of forms just so my records may be secure.

It is a good thing our paperwork is being kept private, because after you turn in that clipboard to the receptionist with the Bic ink pen that every sick person in the world has handled and rubbed on their nose, privacy along with modesty seems to disappear.

Thanks to our federal government, sheets of paper listing our age are kept out of view, but human bodies, which one only has to glance at to remove any doubt about one’s age, are open season in a doctor’s office.

As I said, I am having some problems with my lower back and made a visit to a specialist to check out the problem. After completing all the forms and developing writer’s cramp – which I did not have before I got there – I was taken to another waiting room outside the X-ray area, where several people were sitting, waiting their turns and completing more forms. I was called into the X-ray room, but after careful examination of what I was wearing, it was determined that I needed to be wearing shorts. Of course, this was mid-winter, and I normally don’t wear shorts that time of the year. To tell the truth, I don’t wear shorts much anytime of the year. I seem to look my best wearing as many clothes as possible when out in public.

They took me to another room, gave me a pair of paper shorts to put on and told me to come back when I had changed. I gave the shorts the once over and began putting them on as I was told. They were made out of blue paper and could have been used for a parachute if I had decided to jump from a high altitude. Now I was wearing large, bright blue paper shorts pulled up to my chest, a long-sleeve dress shirt, black socks and brown lace-up shoes. A more pitiful site you could not imagine, and I now had to leave the safety of the dressing room to walk through a crowd of people to get back to the X-ray room.

Pretending everyone out there was blind, I proceeded to X-ray. I made it there without too much laughter and had the X-rays made. Hoping that I could now change my clothes, I moved to the door but was told that the shorts needed to be left on. They escorted me back through the people waiting outside and down a long hall to an examining room to meet with the doctor.

Finally, the doctor came in to check me out. After looking at my back, he decided he wanted to see me walk. He opened the door and told me to go down the hall and come back when he said, “Turn around.” Of course, down the hall meant back through the X-ray waiting room and past a large group of picture windows overlooking the parking lot and highway.

After performing my “runway parade” like a beauty pageant contestant, he called me back to the room and allowed me to get dressed. I trashed the blue shorts and got out of there.

I have reached the age where privacy and pride are only a memory when it comes to going to the doctor, but I know my paperwork is safely out of sight. I wonder if the Privacy Act of 1974 covers paper shorts?

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