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using patient's name in a personal statement

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by veaselhaufen, May 16, 2008.

  1. veaselhaufen

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    Do you think it's okay to use a patient's name in my personal statement? Or is this kind of sketchy. I haven't asked permission by the way... But I also haven't revealed much more than the condition she suffers from.
     
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  3. flip26

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  4. nu2004

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    no, you may not use her name. you may use a pretend name though. or you could just say "the patient" and "she."

    unrelated note: no safety schools?
     
  5. veaselhaufen

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    I think it's a good bit though. Can I make up some Jane Doe name or is that just ridiculous?
     
  6. veaselhaufen

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    But if I make up a name won't they think I'm breaking HIPAA laws anyway?
     
  7. nu2004

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    well i would think you would say "a patient who we'll call Anne" or "(name changed to protect privacy)"

    edit: i agree that relating a story involving a patient can be a real eye-catcher. i wrote about trying to get IV access on an obese, edematous, AIDS-infected former IV drug user, and every interviewer wanted to talk about it.
     
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  8. Quix

    Quix Herr Professor
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    That's why you speak as generally as possible; as few specifics and potentially identifying details as possible (e.g., gender and rough age plus condition are okay; personal details (*especially names*) can get you sued, and can cost the health care institution from which you drew the example a nice fine).
     
  9. LizzyM

    LizzyM the evil queen of numbers
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    You can always use a pseudonym and say something like, "The patient, who I will call Ian, ..." Of course, the beauty of this scheme is that Ian is a short name. Ana, Liz, Ina, Jim, Tom, Tim all good... Ed is even better! Think of all the characters you'll save.

    :luck:
     
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  10. Isoprop

    Isoprop Fascinating, tell me more
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    i've seen abbreviated names: e.g. Ms. K. or Mr. Y. Try to stay away from stupid sounding ones though like Mr. T. :rolleyes:
     
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  11. Lawliet2008

    Lawliet2008 Nobody mess with Adam We
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    :thumbup: I usually use "John" and "Jane"
     
  12. LizzyM

    LizzyM the evil queen of numbers
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    if your PS is running too long try Jon or Jan.
     
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  13. bozz

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    Just use their first name... like "Emily" or "Emma" or "Em"
     
  14. OldBlue

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    ok so is a real first name ok or should we stick to fake names? the patient to which i refer in my essay is a friend, not somebody i met at a hospital. i hadn't even thought about the name thing until i read this thread.
     
  15. LizzyM

    LizzyM the evil queen of numbers
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    I'd give your friend a fake name and say, "A friend I'll call Ed" (or a similar short name)

    You'd be surprised at how small a world it is... it may seem absurd but the adcom member reading your essay may know your roommate or his family and identify him from the description, particularly if the situation was a very odd one.
     
  16. Schemp

    Schemp drawing infinity
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    Given that you gain absolutely nothing by using the real name, and stand to potentially turn the reader of your PS off through borderline violation of HIPAA laws, I can't even understand why this is a question.
     
  17. veaselhaufen

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    Because unless you use something like john doe, the adcom will not realize that you are using a fake name and will frown upon your statement. If you use "a friend I will call X" it sounds awkward. I like the "Miss N" approach
     
  18. MilkmanAl

    MilkmanAl Al the Ass Mod
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    There's nothing borderline about it. Using a patient's name and describing his/her condition in detail is exactly what HIPAA protects against. Last I checked, blatant disregard for a law everyone seriously interested in becoming a doctor should be intimately familiar with was not a particularly valued quality in prospective med students. Just use a pseudonym for the patient and be done with it.
     
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  19. LikeClockWork

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    So you realize that using a real name would be breaking HIPAA laws (assuming you're bound by them)? Then why would you even consider using the real name? And if you're going to use a fake name, you might as well make it short enough to work toward your advantage in the character count.
     
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  20. 87138

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    I used the first initial of the patient's REAL first name.

    An example snippet: " . . . and R., an elderly man with alzheimer's . . . "

    Saves characters and preserves anonymity.
     
  21. SaveThisLabRat

    SaveThisLabRat $700 Billion Dollar Woman
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    I mean, on your own MDApps OP you're going to great lengths to secure your own identity ("University of Anonymous", like we'd spend the time of day to look you up).
     
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  22. SugPlum

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    When I wrote my personal statement, I used a simple, three-letter name for the patient. I did not precede the name with a phrase like "a patient whom I should call..." because I felt that it would be understood real patient names are not supposed to be used.
     
  23. TexasTriathlete

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    The real question is: why are you talking so much about someone else in your personal statement that you might consider using their name? The PS is about you, and why you are a kickass applicant. Not some patient that you're probably going to say inspired you to go into medicine, or some horse**** like that.
     
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  24. 87138

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    That's a silly statement TT. No one said they were opining extensively about these people. But mentioning someone in passing happens a lot. And most personal statements are built on a huge foundation of horse****.
     
  25. DoctorDreamer

    DoctorDreamer In a far away land...
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    I named the following:

    My Uncle Mike (the doctor I worked with)
    My Aunt Sandy (a quadriplegic)
    My brother Daniel (horrible snowboarding accident)
    My grandpa (cancer victim)
    The head of my graduate program who helped me decide on medical school instead.

    These were okay, but that's probably pretty different from what you're doing...
     
  26. Terpskins99

    Terpskins99 Fear... The Stig
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    This should be obvious. Absolutely NOT. Good grief, I sincerely hope you didn't try to ask her. Nevermind HIPAA, she is a patient and is entitled to her privacy.

    Anyhow, the whole "I want to do medicine to help people"-angle has been done to death and won't impress much. Just my opinion, it can often backfire since the first question you might get during an interview is why medicine and not nursing, social work, christian missionary in the jungles of peru... etc.
     
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  27. LizzyM

    LizzyM the evil queen of numbers
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    Of course, every patient you've mentioned is a relative so you know of their health histories directly from them outside of a health care setting. One thing to think about is this: how would you feel if someone who did not know you, but who knows Mike, Sandy, Daniel, or grandpa reads what you wrote about them. I know of more than one situation where an adcom member found themselves reading about someone whom they knew -- in one case it was the adcom member's recently deceased son who was named (first name only) by someone who had volunteered at a school for disabled kids (the adcom member was touched but passed on making a judgment about the application).

    Oh, and think twice before you discuss ugly situations within your families. I've been shocked to read about "daddy's love child", "dad leaving mom for a gay lover", and "dad abuses mom" (the last couple were household names in a certain metro area). In one case, I recognized the application as coming from someone whose grandma had told me that her grandchild was applying to my school. I never let on to grandma that I was privy to these "family secrets" but it did make me uncomfortable (and sad) to know of her family's troubles.
     
  28. shmrshines

    shmrshines nerd in hot girl clothing
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    definitely no patients names. hippa violation.
     
  29. 87138

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    HIPAA.
     
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  30. RPedigo

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    I just said: Jenny*

    Put an asterisk after the first usage of the name, but not the rest of the usages of the name.

    ...and at the end, after the final sentence,

    *names have been changed.
     
  31. shmrshines

    shmrshines nerd in hot girl clothing
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    really who cares... I know how to abide by it, that's all that matters.
     
  32. cpants

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    Use Mr./Mrs. S. or a first name if it is a child. This is the standard way to identify patients that you will see in medical school and beyond.
     
  33. ChubbyChaser

    ChubbyChaser Yummmy
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    what if we mention our research and say something like.." working with Dr. Smith..." can we not do that either??
     
  34. veaselhaufen

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    okay, point proven/ anonymity is not used on mdapps to disguise oneself from other applicants.

    If I was on an adcom I would scour mdapps to see what applicants really think of my school.
     
  35. 45408

    45408 aw buddy
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    Seeing how your PI is publishing articles for the purpose of getting their name out, I rather doubt it.
     
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  36. brianmartin

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    you have to ASK whether to use a patient's name in your PS???
     
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  37. Vanguard23

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    I don't really see a problem with it. After all, it's you using their name and not them using it.
     
  38. LizzyM

    LizzyM the evil queen of numbers
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    Unless you are going to bad mouth a professional, I don't see any harm in naming them and it helps match things up if you also have a LOR from them or you list them in your experience section.

    But, don't name drop (tossing in that you attended lab meetings with Dr. Nobel Prize winner) , particularly if the person is not someone who knows you by name. Also, recognize that some investigators and clinicians are not held in high regard by their peers and if you fawn over them and say that you want to be just like them, it could backfire.
     
  39. Captain Fantastic

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    "Mr. T was my favorite participant," was the opening sentence to my personal statement. Lame? Maybe, but I was accepted and received compliments on my statement during my interviews. :thumbup:
     
  40. In Vino Veritas

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    I pity the foo' who is your favorite participant!
     
  41. werd

    werd Senior Member
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    you basically have two options, and neither of them is using someone's real name.
    1) use any random first name, and put it in quotations the first time you use it. "Joe" was in the hospital for...

    2) use initials. AJ was in the hospital for, Mr. J, etc. this is how patients are often discussed for hospital conferences.

    you can discuss your medical colleagues, PI's, etc by their full names or last names if you wish. you may also reveal the names of pets that were involved.
     
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  42. Captain Fantastic

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    Don't gimme no backtalk, sucka!
     
  43. RoadRunner17

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    I did this.
     
  44. 45408

    45408 aw buddy
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    I think initials are good. You can use fake initials if you're concerned that it's still too obvious.
     
  45. Biochem

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    Ever hear of HIPAA????
     
  46. chad5871

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    I worked with a Hispanic male patient that I talked about in my PS, and I just renamed him "Jorge" because I think that name is sweet!
     
  47. BillrothI

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    Sorry to bump this very old post, but I have a similar dilemma.

    Is it okay to use a first-name pseudonym without explicitly stating that it's a pseudonym (eg - "Tom was a nice patient.")? Or would it be preferable to use two initials (eg - "TM was a nice a patient.")? I would rather use a pseudonym so that I don't have to refer to the patient as "the patient" over and over again, but I don't want to appear unprofessional.

    Thanks,
    Bill
     
  48. Doctor Strange

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    The first time you mention the pseudonym, put it in quotes (i.e., "Tom" was a nice patient). The reader will be cued into the fact that "Tom" is a pseudonym.
     
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  49. mrh125

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    I wouldn't. It's a HIPAA breach and imagine if someone actually went through the effort of reporting it. The fines are huge and I wouldn't my name being used in anything.
     
  50. ridethecliche

    ridethecliche Meep Meep Meep
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    Good job gravediggers...
     
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  51. jm192

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    Someone else correct me if I'm wrong--but my understanding is that you're only violating HIPPA if a patient is identifiable from the information you've disclosed.
    In general, to avoid HIPPA violations, I just don't discuss patient things in the open. But when you do, you can say Mrs. Smith--unless you're in a really small place and there might be only 1 Mrs. Smith. Now if you go saying stuff like "A 38 year old with MS I saw at Dr. Bob Johnson's office." you start opening a lot more doors. But as a default, if you're not sure: Always shut up when someone gets on the elevator/walks into the room.

    When I wrote my PS, I wrote about "Mrs. Smith." which was a name change. I agree put it in quotation marks the first time so it's obviously changed.
     

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