Damn Hippa!!!

  1. hey fellow nurses, here is my story. i was working a 16 hr shift at a small rural er. well, the first half of the shift (3-11) i work ed with one other nurse. this nurse had some health problems, 52 years old and a very likable person. well, we had a good evening together she felt and acted like usual. at 2300 she clocked out, felt and looked fine. we finalized our plans for potlock tomarrow. well, at 2345 ems brings her in after she collapsed at a local store. when ems pulled up i went out to the rig and helped unload the patient. sure enough, i recognized the stethascope she has and looked at the face and sure enough....guess who, but my fellow co-worker. well, after a work up we transfered her to the trauma center and i called for follow up to see how she was, i mean she is like family and the nurse taking care of her kind of gave me a brief report until the supervisor caught on and then informed me of hippa. trust me, i think hippa has its time and place, however, i think we should get a follow up on the pt's status....am i wrong for thinking this??

    turns out the daughters called up and told us she passed and asked us to tell her "2nd shift family" can i legally do that since that also would be against hippa!!!

    in such a small community where we all close like family, where is the line? and did i cross it?

    comments?
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  2. 13 Comments

  3. by   NicoleRN07
    We transfer patients to different hospitals quite frequently and we almost always follow up. Usually we don't have a problem getting information, but I can see where it might present a problem. I could be just anyone calling for information. I do think that hospitals receiving transfers should have some way of updating the transferring facility of the patients condition. As for telling her "2nd shift family", I think that is perfectly fine, since the patients daughters gave you permission.
  4. by   CraigB-RN
    To be honest in this case, I think the supervisor calling it a HIPAA violation is correct. It doesn't matter that you consider yourself "family" you are a co-worker. If the patient or the patients family wants you to know about whats going on, then they can tell you or give someone permision to tell you. As a co-worker you have no and never had any right to any information. Even prior to HIPAA this would be considered a breach of confidentiality. You always err on the side of privacy. The health care world is a small inclosed world and in to many cases, a little information in the wrong hands can do a lot of damage to a person.
  5. by   muffie
    condolences on the sudden loss of your co-worker
  6. by   swatch007
    Being able to follow what you are legally bound to follow as a nurse is what makes you a professional that includes HIPPA. If I were a police, you would not expect me to let my drug dealer friend to get away just because he is supporting his studies from the profit he makes?

    Emotions is not bad, but don't get mixed up with legal responsibilities and feelings.

    I sincerely feel sorry for the loss of your friend.:smilecoffeeIlovecof
  7. by   Balder_LPN
    HIPAA clearly allows follow up calls to the facility a PT has been tranferrred too as a means of continuing PT care and Quality Assuarance. Calling for your own info would be be a violation, a normal follow up call to find out the DX and status and stuff as a Quality control measure is not. Nothing in HIPAA prevents you from visiting your coworker at the hospital.

    HIPAA would not prevent you from telling your coworkers that she has passed after the info was relayed to you by the family and asked to let them know, but that doesnt mean that your facility might have a tighter privacy policy. I think you have brought up one of the muddiest HIPAA issues I have seen here for a while. But, as someone with long experience with these issues (I was in IT in healthcare in 1997 when HIPAA began to effect us), this does not seem to be a violation of rules as currently interpreted ( I learned that line from the Chief of Information Security at HCFA (now CMS) at a conference almost 10 years ago, don't ever expect a bureaucrat to give a difinitive answer)
  8. by   moongirl
    the paper that I signed at a facility also stated that it is a HIPPA violation if I even look at my OWN file. If I were say, waiting for lab results for myself and went on the computer to look at them, it would be a violation.
    MY OWN CHART !!

    In the ER, we are not allowed to ask about the pt once they leave the facility, not even in a "follow up" manner. They had 2 nurses fired who followed up on a Peds pt that went up to the floor from the ER

    I am sorry for the loss of your friend.
  9. by   Ann RN
    The human being (I use that term loosely) that introduced HIPPA should be taken out back and forced to listen to the stories of worried spouses that are refused information and proper treatment of their loved ones.
  10. by   dazey71
    Maybe since her condition was so serious, they wanted to talk to the family first. I know in that situation, if I was the nurse, I would let the family know what her coworkers had called and that they might update them.
  11. by   anonymurse
    Hey, it's her license. Ya gotta respect that.
  12. by   RunnerRN
    My understanding is that it would have been okay to f/u if you had simply been a transferring facility. The fact that she was also a coworker in your department makes things a little more complicated. You should have no problems telling the rest of your coworkers that this friend passed - but I would be very careful about getting into the nitty gritty details regarding labs and other things you learned in the course of caring for her. I think a simple "EMS brought her in after she collapsed, we did our best and transferred her to X Hospital" should suffice. I know people want to know all the dirty details (and they will probably get out eventually) but you'll want to watch yourself on this one.

    I'm so sorry for your loss. That has to be one of the most difficult things to bear at work.
  13. by   SEOBowhntr
    I've never had a problem when I called another facility asking for an update on a patient we may have sent them. I see this more as showing concern, and keeping staff updated with the progress of a patient they cared for, not seeking information for personal gain. Then again, I REFUSE to sign any HIPAA forms when I got to a Doc or Dentist, just out of quiet opposition to a stupid law. If she died, then you are allowed to tell anyone you want she died, that is PUBLIC RECORD!!! Sorry about the loss of a co-worker, for you and the group you work with, but I think I'm even more sorry that you have an administrator that has forgotten the "Human" side of the job.
  14. by   KellNY
    See, but when it's an over the phone f/u, the nurse on the other end has no idea of knowing whether you are in fact, Nurse X from Small Community General or the Pt's mentally ex who has NO rights to her medical information.

    So, yes, HIPAA will allow professionals involved in the care to obtain information, but you can't verify identity over the phone.

    And while it's a PITA, HIPAA really does serve a lot of good as far as insurence coverage and well-deserved privacy goes. Do some research.

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