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DEAR ABBY: My psychiatrist's office called and left a very sensitive voicemail about my bulimia on a message machine shared with other individuals. Our voicemails are sent transcribed to everyone's email accounts.

Since my complaint (which was an argument during which the nurse who left the private information hung up on me), human resources and the office manager have contacted me to try to alleviate the tension, but I have received no apology from anyone for violating HIPAA or embarrassing me. Should I throw in the towel and find a new doctor or revoke my contact information from their files? I don't know how to proceed from here. -- PERSONAL TO PUBLIC

DEAR PERSONAL: If you provided a shared phone number as your point of contact, you should not have blamed the person who left the message for using it. I see no reason to change doctors, but you should definitely alter your client information so this doesn't happen in the future.

That said, does your psychiatrist know one of his/her employees hung up on you? If not, the doctor should be informed, and you should be offered an apology.

DEAR ABBY: As guardians of our 5-year-old grandson, we have been given all rights, no terms. He has a father who is "on again, off again" and makes zero financial contribution. I want to cut him off because consistency and effort are important to me, and he shows none.

My husband, on the other hand, says the boy is young, and I should give his father some time because contact once every other month is better than none at all. Our grandson enjoys him when he is here, but he doesn't miss him or ask for him once he's left. Should I allow this inconsistency and instability to continue? -- PARENTS AGAIN IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR PARENTS AGAIN: I think your husband is right. While the father's presence may be sporadic, at least your grandson knows that he is cared about. As he grows older, he may or may not start asking why his dad isn't around more. Deal with it then. The boy's stability is coming from the home you and your husband are providing for him, and that should be your focus.

DEAR ABBY: I'm close to my brother and his wife. My friend "Dotty"-- who is estranged from her husband -- thinks my brother is hot, so when she sees him (without his wife) she greets him with a quick kiss on the lips. I have told her I don't think my sister-in-law would like it if she saw her do that.

Since then, Dotty has asked him to do repair work at her house (without pay) and he agreed because he is kindhearted. I told her subtly that I didn't think that was a good idea. Is her behavior toward married men normal? -- TOO FRIENDLY IN HAWAII

DEAR TOO FRIENDLY: It is, for a woman who is friendly, outgoing and on the prowl. You may be dropping hints about what Dotty is doing to the wrong person. The next time you talk to your brother, tell HIM what you think about your friend's behavior, and ask him what he thinks his wife would think about it.

Contact Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

Dear Abby is written by Jeanne Phillips and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. The column is distributed by the Universal Press Syndicate.


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