Red Tape Overkill

Last Wednesday I underwent a relatively simple outpatient surgical procedure to repair the torn meniscus in my right knee. All went well, apart from minor damage inflicted to my pride by the surgeons’ frequent observation: “At your age …”

Another, worse pain came from the strangling red tape of the check-in process. Over and over again, I was asked the same questions—at the surgeons’ office, by telephone from pre-admission contact (twice!) and again at check-in. It was duplicative, inefficient and makes no sense in this age of computers. Not to mention that I had to identify myself at least two dozen times by full name, date of birth, and reason for and location of the surgical procedure to be performed. At one point I joked that the check-in process required nearly as many signatures and initials as a mortgage closing. The nurse agreed, but did not crack a smile.

I have often said that regulation serves an important role in protecting consumers. I have a right to know how healthcare may affect me. Likewise with prescription medicine, food that I ingest, airlines and banking. Basically anything that can easily harm me, my loved ones and my money requires full and open disclosure.

The problem is the volume of documents to sign or initial that no one has the time to read, and few have the expertise to understand. The above recount of overkill in the healthcare industry is only one example. It is time that we the people take back the United States. We need to say enough already to economy-killing, redundant paperwork and to endless signing, initialing and questioning of the obvious.

Red tape overkill is certainly one of the villains causing fiscal problems in both the public and private sectors.

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