So once upon a time, in this little country in the South Pacific, the people voted for politicians who decided that should an accident occur causing injury, then payment would be made for rehabilitation and loss of function from a fund set up for the purpose. Employers would pay into this fund, the amount would be set depending on the risk of injury in their industry, and everyone would live happily ever after. They called this the Accident Compensation Corporation.
There were some difficult cases - burglars who were injured in the middle of a crime for instance, people who shot themselves, drunk drivers who smashed themselves (and often others) up, that sort of thing - but the fund covered everyone.
No longer did doctors need to fear being sued - no one got sued for harming anyone any more. The Medical Council of course still had power to censure errant doctors, but those who were injured, or the bereaved of the deceased, were all paid out of the fund, and life went on.
Some people, whose injuries were very personal and included mental injury, had their files handled by the Sensitive Claims Unit. Confidentiality was paramount. These claims might involve circumstances of rape, of incest, of mutilation. Sensitive stuff indeed.
Then one day, someone at ACC made a mistake. An email was sent to a completely unsuspecting person, who happened to be a client of ACC, and attached to that email was a database of 6,748 other clients of ACC. The data included their names and details of their injuries. Included in these 6,748 clients were about 250 clients whose cases were being handled by the Sensitive Claims Unit.
The media had a field day! Allegations and finger pointing, truths, half-truths and non-truths made their way daily into the TV news and front pages of the newspapers. Records of meetings were produced, the shakey truth began to emerge, and then ACC decided to fix it.
Yes, ACC knew what fixes everything.
If they accepted a claim, and paid money, (which began to happen less and less frequently) then the client went and got professional medical help, and everyone was happy.
If they declined a claim, because the claimant was, say, over 60, (so therefore it would be a fair bet that there was some physical deterioration due to aging) on the grounds of normal deterioration (even when it was pretty clear to everyone else that the injury was caused by the accident concerned), they knew that withholding the money required for physio and medical attention caused more pain. Or if they declined a claim because there was a delay filling in the forms, they were soon made aware that non-payment caused stress, anxiety and a longer recovery time.
The problem was that at some point over the years, they had stopped seeing their clients as people whom they were set up to help, and instead viewed them only as economic drains on the fund, whose duty it had become to protect.
So they knew how to fix the stress and pain of those clients whose sensitive claims' confidentiality had been breached.
They offered them money.
Not a lot of money apparently. It's said to be in the "low hundreds".
But hey, money fixes everything doesn't it.
That'll solve it!
That'll make it go away!
That'll make them live happily ever after!
Hooray – a victory for privacy!
1 week ago