Command

SysOp
5+ Year Member
Aug 19, 2013
127
87
Status
Medical Student
During a interview tour at a medical school, the ambassadors showed us a cadaver & opened his rib cage for us to see.

At another school, the ambassador said they weren't allowed to show us cadavers due to HIPAA.

I didn't sign a HIPAA form prior to touring the first med school. Was this a HIPAA violation?
 
Aug 8, 2013
1,395
903
Michigan
Status
Medical Student
Is there a reason you are concerned? Would you to report the ambassador? Would you like to report the school?

I don't know the answer to your question for sure, but I hope that in the future one of the skills you gain is an appreciation of when a situation is cause for concern -sensitive information is not treated correctly - vs blindly following rules. Sometimes there are situations that are the opposite: technically no rule is broken but the circumstances are such that the action in question is still inappropriate.

Good luck in your interview season, congratulations on your multiple interviews.
 
OP
Command

Command

SysOp
5+ Year Member
Aug 19, 2013
127
87
Status
Medical Student
Thank for your reply.

I have no intention of reporting anyone, I just want to know which tour guide was right.
 

PreMedOrDead

I'm sure you'll get in...
5+ Year Member
May 19, 2012
2,377
240
A dark, dark cave
Status
Is there a reason you are concerned? Would you to report the ambassador? Would you like to report the school?

I don't know the answer to your question for sure, but I hope that in the future one of the skills you gain is an appreciation of when a situation is cause for concern -sensitive information is not treated correctly - vs blindly following rules. Sometimes there are situations that are the opposite: technically no rule is broken but the circumstances are such that the action in question is still inappropriate.

Good luck in your interview season, congratulations on your multiple interviews.
Probably the harshest, most defensive response I've ever seen to such a passive, honest question while never actually providing a legitimate answer.

Probably about 1/2 of my schools let me view the cadaver lab last cycle, about 1/2 of those let us see actual cadavers (if you so choose). Unfortunately, I am not sure what the policy regarding this is. I can see why HIPAA is a concern, but many, many schools do this during interviews of prospective medical students, not that it alleviates HIPAA violation.
 

Pacna

Dyslexics, untie!
Jun 2, 2013
2,017
2,251
MN
Status
Medical Student
Probably the harshest, most defensive response I've ever seen to such a passive, honest question while never actually providing a legitimate answer.

Probably about 1/2 of my schools let me view the cadaver lab last cycle, about 1/2 of those let us see actual cadavers (if you so choose). Unfortunately, I am not sure what the policy regarding this is. I can see why HIPAA is a concern, but many, many schools do this during interviews of prospective medical students.
I was thinking the same.

I had this exact experience and question. The schools were in the same state, so it wasn't a state law thing.

I would like to know the answer, too.
 

LizzyM

the evil queen of numbers
10+ Year Member
Mar 7, 2005
22,934
31,541
Status
Academic Administration
HIPAA provides national standard for the protection of protected health information. INFORMATION. A covered entity which includes most health care clinicians and the facilities where they practice (providers) and health plans (individual and group insurance, coverage from employers, etc) and health care clearinghouses (aggregators of information about health claims). Information can be shared with others in ways that are stipulated by law.

I'm not sure what protected health information about an individual would be shared by letting you look at a cadaver. Frankly, I think that HIPAA gets used as a shibboleth when someone doesn't want to be bothered to do something in a health care setting whether it is permitting a student to shadow or allowing people access to a medical school anatomy lab. (The medical school in the role of teaching anatomy is not a health care provider, not a helath plan and not a health care clearinghouse, is it?)
 

PreMedOrDead

I'm sure you'll get in...
5+ Year Member
May 19, 2012
2,377
240
A dark, dark cave
Status
Frankly, I think that HIPAA gets used as a shibboleth when someone doesn't want to be bothered to do something in a health care setting whether it is permitting a student to shadow or allowing people access to a medical school anatomy lab.
Basically how I had figured it, too. Some schools just do not want to go to the trouble of shuffling prospective students through an anatomy lab when they are trying to get interviews done and narrow down the applicant pool to whom they wish to select.
 
Aug 8, 2013
1,395
903
Michigan
Status
Medical Student
Apologies for my manner of response, OP. I feel strongly about the opinions I put forth, but upon a second look I recognize that I linked my frustration with people I have had this identical conversation with and you. Believe it or not, more than one interviewee thought they could get bonus points fit whistle blowing on their tour guide. Not cool. I didn't read your response as an honest question.
 

Ok2Panic

Resident
10+ Year Member
Aug 21, 2005
605
21
New York, NY
Status
Resident [Any Field]
Just wanted to second Lizzy's reply. I think it's important to actually know what HIPAA covers and what it entails both from the standpoint of not accidentally making a mistake by chatting in an elevator or something, but also because it really unfortunately gets thrown around in a catch-all, very nebulous sort of way.
 

PreMedOrDead

I'm sure you'll get in...
5+ Year Member
May 19, 2012
2,377
240
A dark, dark cave
Status
Just wanted to second Lizzy's reply. I think it's important to actually know what HIPAA covers and what it entails both from the standpoint of not accidentally making a mistake by chatting in an elevator or something, but also because it really unfortunately gets thrown around in a catch-all, very nebulous sort of way.
To clarify out of curiosity, would the case of showing potential students the cadavers without any HIPAA-protected information be under some sort of fair-use policy with the donors?

My experience with cadaver confidentiality is generally to just keep anyone not active in cadaver anatomy away from them in the off chance someone happens to recognize the cadaver, gain access to medical info, etc.
 

tantacles

Moderator Emeritus
Lifetime Donor
7+ Year Member
Sep 28, 2009
7,547
2,410
Status
Resident [Any Field]
HIPAA provides national standard for the protection of protected health information. INFORMATION. A covered entity which includes most health care clinicians and the facilities where they practice (providers) and health plans (individual and group insurance, coverage from employers, etc) and health care clearinghouses (aggregators of information about health claims). Information can be shared with others in ways that are stipulated by law.

I'm not sure what protected health information about an individual would be shared by letting you look at a cadaver. Frankly, I think that HIPAA gets used as a shibboleth when someone doesn't want to be bothered to do something in a health care setting whether it is permitting a student to shadow or allowing people access to a medical school anatomy lab. (The medical school in the role of teaching anatomy is not a health care provider, not a helath plan and not a health care clearinghouse, is it?)
I agree, but I really just wanted to compliment you on your use of the word shibboleth, one of my personal favorites.
 

darkjedi

how did this get here I am not good with computer
7+ Year Member
Oct 14, 2009
2,986
2,938
As others have said, this doesn't fall under the guise of HIPAA. Internal policies will differ from school to school though. The cadaver lab is actually part of our official school/interview tour. Optional of course.
 
Last edited:

SouthernSurgeon

Lifetime Donor
10+ Year Member
Dec 17, 2008
4,363
8,300
Status
Resident [Any Field]
It's funny...at my school when we gave tours we were told not to take the applicants to the anatomy lab as it was "against policy"

Since I graduated they built a brand new shiny lab which now features prominently in the tour.

Interesting how the policy magically changed :rolleyes:
 

PreMedOrDead

I'm sure you'll get in...
5+ Year Member
May 19, 2012
2,377
240
A dark, dark cave
Status
It's funny...at my school when we gave tours we were told not to take the applicants to the anatomy lab as it was "against policy"

Since I graduated they built a brand new shiny lab which now features prominently in the tour.

Interesting how the policy magically changed :rolleyes:
I actually figured this during my application cycle. If you didn't let me see your anatomy lab, I'm assuming it's not worth showing off. Odd how all the schools who let us see had beautiful anatomy labs, big flat panel TVs around the room, and nice ventilation systems. ;)
 

mcloaf

7+ Year Member
Jan 21, 2012
5,176
4,648
Status
Resident [Any Field]
Believe it or not, more than one interviewee thought they could get bonus points fit whistle blowing on their tour guide. Not cool. I didn't read your response as an honest question.
Lol. One can only assume that trying to rat out the tour guide for breaking HIPAA without actually understanding the law ended really well for those interviewees...


Didn't these kids ever learn the G code?
 
  • Like
Reactions: BlueLabel

Doctor Strange

Sorcerer Supreme
Lifetime Donor
7+ Year Member
Jun 12, 2012
6,832
2,912
177A Bleecker Street, New York City, NY
Status
Resident [Any Field]
I actually figured this during my application cycle. If you didn't let me see your anatomy lab, I'm assuming it's not worth showing off. Odd how all the schools who let us see had beautiful anatomy labs, big flat panel TVs around the room, and nice ventilation systems. ;)
We actually just got a new anatomy lab with all the bells and whistles last year but are still not allowed to show it on the tour. I guess it varies from school to school.
 

PreMedOrDead

I'm sure you'll get in...
5+ Year Member
May 19, 2012
2,377
240
A dark, dark cave
Status
We actually just got a new anatomy lab with all the bells and whistles last year but are still not allowed to show it on the tour. I guess it varies from school to school.
School probably just wants to stick with its current interview day format. Pretty reasonable.
 

Chir0nex

5+ Year Member
Aug 22, 2011
354
94
Status
I don't think it is a HIPPA issue, but many schools have internal policy meant to ensure that the cadavers are treated respectfully. Some schools may consider showing off cadavers to prospective students to be disrespectful/may upset families of the donors, and so prefer to leave them covered for tours.

However, I do not remember any school skipping the anatomy lab on the tour completely. It is a big part of first year, and while it does not need to be beautiful, if a school is keeping it hidden it does raise some concerns.
 

Ok2Panic

Resident
10+ Year Member
Aug 21, 2005
605
21
New York, NY
Status
Resident [Any Field]
I don't think it is a HIPPA issue, but many schools have internal policy meant to ensure that the cadavers are treated respectfully. Some schools may consider showing off cadavers to prospective students to be disrespectful/may upset families of the donors, and so prefer to leave them covered for tours.

However, I do not remember any school skipping the anatomy lab on the tour completely. It is a big part of first year, and while it does not need to be beautiful, if a school is keeping it hidden it does raise some concerns.
I don't know, I'd kind of caution the opposite. I know this wasn't the OPs original point, so sorry to go on a tangent. But I remember that as a pre-med I paid way too much attention to anatomy labs and students per body and all sorts of random anatomy related things. But in the end, Anatomy is only a portion of one year of your experience during medical school. Fancy labs with flat screens and bells and whistles are nice and alluring, but I'd say don't put too much undue emphasis on things that are ultimately really minimally going to impact your education and med school experience. It's hard not to get caught up in it--med schools play it up and parade things like anatomy labs and match lists to applicants, so it all feels incredibly important. But I wouldn't consider the absence of an anatomy lab as a stop on the tour as a red flag. Maybe they don't see the necessity of filling your head with the scent of formaldahyde just to see a room.
 

mcloaf

7+ Year Member
Jan 21, 2012
5,176
4,648
Status
Resident [Any Field]
However, I do not remember any school skipping the anatomy lab on the tour completely. It is a big part of first year, and while it does not need to be beautiful, if a school is keeping it hidden it does raise some concerns.
25% at most of the schools I interviewed at took us through the anatomy labs during the tour. I don't think they have anything to hide, just other priorities. Tours in general are sort of largely wasted time.
 
Last edited:

SouthernSurgeon

Lifetime Donor
10+ Year Member
Dec 17, 2008
4,363
8,300
Status
Resident [Any Field]
I don't know, I'd kind of caution the opposite. I know this wasn't the OPs original point, so sorry to go on a tangent. But I remember that as a pre-med I paid way too much attention to anatomy labs and students per body and all sorts of random anatomy related things. But in the end, Anatomy is only a portion of one year of your experience during medical school. Fancy labs with flat screens and bells and whistles are nice and alluring, but I'd say don't put too much undue emphasis on things that are ultimately really minimally going to impact your education and med school experience.
Agreed. Maybe I turned off an applicant or two, but whenever I got the standard "how many students per cadaver?" question I always (nicely) told the tour group that that is one of the most meaningless questions you can ask, and talked about the things that I think actually matter when you are selecting a med school. (And I told them that it was 4 per body at our school ;) )
 
Sep 26, 2013
273
219
Nibiru
Status
Medical Student
HIPAA provides national standard for the protection of protected health information. INFORMATION.
This...

I do not see how this is a HIPAA violation at all. Oh no, you found out the person was human.
 

Chir0nex

5+ Year Member
Aug 22, 2011
354
94
Status
I don't know, I'd kind of caution the opposite. I know this wasn't the OPs original point, so sorry to go on a tangent. But I remember that as a pre-med I paid way too much attention to anatomy labs and students per body and all sorts of random anatomy related things. But in the end, Anatomy is only a portion of one year of your experience during medical school. Fancy labs with flat screens and bells and whistles are nice and alluring, but I'd say don't put too much undue emphasis on things that are ultimately really minimally going to impact your education and med school experience. It's hard not to get caught up in it--med schools play it up and parade things like anatomy labs and match lists to applicants, so it all feels incredibly important. But I wouldn't consider the absence of an anatomy lab as a stop on the tour as a red flag. Maybe they don't see the necessity of filling your head with the scent of formaldahyde just to see a room.
I view the lab the same way I consider the primary lecture hall or classroom for the school. It is is where you are going to spend a ton of time, and as such, I would hope that it is relatively well organized, clean etc... It is not a factor that would make me want to go, but it is something that could turn me off of the school. It may only be for one class in one year, but I think that a lab that is actively unpleasant indicates other issues in general.

The other thing is, there are fairly few things that are worth seeing on the tour, so why not show the lab? If there is a good reason, like a class in session, that is understandable, but to simply skip it just seems odd to me.
 

NickNaylor

Thank You for Smoking
Lifetime Donor
10+ Year Member
May 22, 2008
16,885
7,782
Deep in the heart of Texas
Status
Attending Physician
I view the lab the same way I consider the primary lecture hall or classroom for the school. It is is where you are going to spend a ton of time, and as such, I would hope that it is relatively well organized, clean etc... It is not a factor that would make me want to go, but it is something that could turn me off of the school. It may only be for one class in one year, but I think that a lab that is actively unpleasant indicates other issues in general.

The other thing is, there are fairly few things that are worth seeing on the tour, so why not show the lab? If there is a good reason, like a class in session, that is understandable, but to simply skip it just seems odd to me.
If the anatomy lab factors into your decision at all to attend medical school, you're doing it wrong. It's so unimportant in the big scheme of things. My guess is that people care about it exactly because it's shown everywhere. It's one of the few things you can actually compare from school to school, thus you place importance on it. That doesn't mean that it is actually important. Focus on things that will actually have a lasting impact on your education and training.

Sent from my SGH-M919 using Tapatalk
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: Ok2Panic

SouthernSurgeon

Lifetime Donor
10+ Year Member
Dec 17, 2008
4,363
8,300
Status
Resident [Any Field]
If the anatomy lab factors into your decision at all to attend medical school, you're doing it wrong. It's so unimportant in the big scheme of things. My guess is that people care about it exactly because it's shown everywhere. It's one of the few things you can actually compare from school to school, thus you place importance on it. That doesn't mean that it is actually important. Focus on things that will actually have a lasting impact on your education and training.

Sent from my SGH-M919 using Tapatalk
Agreed. We had one of the oldest anatomy labs in the country. Horrible ventilation, trapped in a basement, small, overcrowded.

We all loved it. We crammed in around the bodies, made jokes about dying of formaldehyde poisoning. I accidentally hit my buddy with our cadavers' leg when we did the hemisection of the pelvis. Made for fun and good stories. And the education was still good.

I think having nice facilities overall matters. But anatomy lab is...a lab...where you cut up dead bodies. The scenery doesn't matter that much. We had a great library and student study space, which is where we spent most of our time.