OP-ED: Story Over a Cup: The strange case of the medical email

Published 6:05 am Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Michael Cole
Story Over A Cup

As I mentioned in my last excursion. A distraction/mystery I have been working on has possibly been solved.

Let me give you a bit of a back story.

Michael Cole is a common name in America these days.

The last time I checked, there were five alone in Orange County, Texas.

Not a bad thing until you receive phone calls at two in the morning because one is a plumber.

Or when you share the name with a wrestling personality.

I get tagged in WWE events all the time by them. John Cena sent me a friend request.

I know when there is a new pay-per-view or whatever either about to be broadcast or just broadcast. Simply because I can count on trash talk from wrestling fans over stuff my name twin said or did.

But it is fun, so it does not bother me.

Well, on to this name twin problem.

A few months ago, I received an email from a hospital stating my hospital records were ready to be viewed.

It is not something I thought a lot about, my doctors and hospitals also do this, so I just moved on. Figured, I would access it later.

When I did, it was a hospital in another state.

I am not going to name the state for privacy reasons, but it was addressed to Michael Cole and they had tests available for him.

I knew for a fact this was not for me. If it were me, I would hope someone would contact the hospital and let them know.

You would think letting a hospital know there is a potential HIPPA violation would be easy.

You would be wrong.

It’s a “do not reply” email so I could not just reply by saying the wrong person.

So I called the hospital. The operator sent me to records, who told me they don’t send emails.

They told me there are several local doctors’ offices that use their medical for results and such and suggested it could have originated there.

I was a little miffed, but I was not going to let this go.

It was a challenge I would not lose.

After the fifth doctor’s office call, I was ready to admit I would never solve this case.

Which brought me to last week.

While being distracted by the last article, I received an email from this hospital chain about an upcoming appointment and a number to call if Michael Cole needed to reschedule.


So I finished the article, giddy in the fact the mystery would be solved and I would have done a good deed.

I called and navigated the automated system to talk to a person.

I explained who I was and why I was calling.

The lady was sympathetic and asked me my name and phone number.

Then she asked me my date of birth.

I told her, only to be told she could not discuss the medical file with me, citing patient privacy.

Slowly, after my jaw was no longer on the floor, I tried once again explaining this to her.

She said she understood, but could only discuss information with the person who is the patient. And unfortunately, she could not make any changes or discuss anything unless I was the person or an authorized person.

I really have no words.


Michael Cole is a syndicated columnist that when he is not writing, he is plotting global domination. You can follow him at www.storyoveracup.com