Can you send sympathy cards to patients?

  1. I do not work in a clinical position at this time but do work on a patient care floor and have access to billing addresses of patients--I deal directly with the patients.

    I have wanted to send sympathy cards or 'thinking of you' cards to some of the patients/families that I have dealt with that have been through great tragedies. I would send them anonymously, through the mail.

    Is this some violation of HIPPA? Again, it would be anonymous and it is not like I did not deal with them directly. Is there any way I could get in big trouble?
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  2. 6 Comments

  3. by   caliotter3
    Why would you want to do this anonymously? It is a violation of HIPAA to get the addresses the way you describe. Don't do it. I have posted in the thread about attending funerals my bad experiences with sending a sympathy card. I read later on that it is not recommended for various reasons (legal and safety) that nurses do not send sympathy cards. However, it is a nice gesture if you get the address through appropriate channels. The one time that you suffer negative consequences like I did will make you change your mind, sorry to say.
  4. by   BookwormRN
    On the med/surg floor at our facility, the unit secretary circulates a sympathy card for staff to sign and it is sent to the family when a pt passes away.

    Similarly, when a pt is admitted to the floor, a "thank you" card is placed in the front of their chart....at change of shift, each new staff member caring for this pt signs the card. These cards are sent to the pts upon discharge. Just our hospital's way of saying "Thanks for letting us take care of you."
  5. by   caliotter3
    The way it is done at BookwormRN's place of employment is the appropriate and safe way to do this. Group effort, group responsibility, so no deranged family member can pick on one individual to terrorize. It is also appropriate for the hospital or facility itself to send cards as part of their standard good will practices.
  6. by   santhony44
    Quote from caliotter3
    The way it is done at BookwormRN's place of employment is the appropriate and safe way to do this. Group effort, group responsibility, so no deranged family member can pick on one individual to terrorize. It is also appropriate for the hospital or facility itself to send cards as part of their standard good will practices.
    A clinic I worked in did this. Our case manager was the one who acquired and circulated the cards. I never heard of any negative feedback from this at all.
  7. by   Curious1alwys
    Wow, I guess I should not do it then. The girl I was going to send the card to just went through something similar as I and I really felt for her. I registered her (insurance) but only knew clinically what had happened through a chief complaint. It was within my job to know that and obtain her current address. But I guess overall this seems too risky.

    What a shame.

    Thanks anyway!
  8. by   futurecnm
    Quote from thrashej
    I do not work in a clinical position at this time but do work on a patient care floor and have access to billing addresses of patients--I deal directly with the patients.

    I have wanted to send sympathy cards or 'thinking of you' cards to some of the patients/families that I have dealt with that have been through great tragedies. I would send them anonymously, through the mail.

    Is this some violation of HIPPA? Again, it would be anonymous and it is not like I did not deal with them directly. Is there any way I could get in big trouble?
    kinda sounds like a boundary violation to me, like getting too close....

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