Hippa email concern - Is it a violation?

  1. 0
    Please let me know if this is a violation: I had a patient who I also knew casually. She and my sister participated in a competition which she won. I did not have her email so I asked a friend for it to congratulate her (nothing to do w/ being a patient). My friend then asked her (the patient) why I would have asked for her email. The patient replied, "it is a private matter". So now I have my friend asking what is the private matter and I have stated that it was just to congratulate her (which of course doesn't add up to my friend - who is dogging me about it & guessing all kinds of incorrect things - ). I am worried that the patient thinks I told my friend something or may be irked that I even asked for her email. Should I email/call the patient and explain because I now feel that I did something wrong and I feel that I should contact the patient and state that I was just getting the email to congratulate her (which I did). This all seems so convoluted!! I wish I had never even asked for it. Any thoughts would be helpful - I don't want to get myself in any deeper. :smackingf

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  2. 13 Comments...

  3. 0
    IMHO an e-mail is something you can ask only the owner of this e-mail, especially if she is your patient. If you know her phone number why do you need e-mail adress to congratulate her?
  4. 0
    You didn't disclose anything about her being a patient, so no, not a HIPAA violation.
  5. 0
    That is just it - I didn't have her e-mail or phone number (all of that was at work) - this was not a patient/provider interaction. That is why I am having trouble with this - if I would not have seen her at the office - I would have done the same exact thing that I did (because I already knew her casually). I almost think it would have been a violation had I used her phone number or e-mail from the office vs. what I did??? So confused!
  6. 0
    Not a HIPAA violation, but hindsight being 20/20... You could have asked your sister (who you say was in competition also) to pass on your congratulations for you.
  7. 0
    Thanks so much. Hindsight being 20/20 - I wouldn't do it again. Too much worry!
    Also, I couldn't ask my sister to pass on congrats because it was over.
  8. 3
    Just because you are a healthcare professional doesn't mean You can't communicate with people who use your hospital outside of work. If you had used her admissions information to get her email then that's a problem, but knowing someone outside of work and emailing them outside of work has nothing to do with HIPAA. Sounds like your friend is nosey and the patient is awkwardly private.
    noahsmama, snuggles49, and SnowShoeRN like this.
  9. 1
    kah5209 - I LOL at that - because it is sooo true. Your post made me feel alot better.
    Simba&NalasMom likes this.
  10. 0
    Quote from laney_
    I almost think it would have been a violation had I used her phone number or e-mail from the office vs. what I did??? So confused!
    Actually I'm pretty sure accessing her information at the office to get her email or phone number when not needing/using it for healthcare realted reasons IS a HIPAA violation.

    Due to knowing her from work it may have been better to ask your friend or sister to pass on your congratulations to her instead of asking for her e-mail. Either a sealed hand writen note, or to forward an email to her if it was something that your friend or sister reading would not be an issue. That way there could be no question of your reasoning for asking, and you would not be getting her email if she did not wish for you to have it. I'm not sure the nature of the competition, but maybe it was something she did not wish to share with that individual, or feels like it is bragging, which is why she just stated it is a private matter, if it is something she wished to share with your friend, then she probably would have instead of saying its a private matter....you could point that out to your friend if she continues to dog you about it that it is HER private matter and if she wished to share it with them she would have, and it is none of your business to share, and make it clear that you are no longer going to discuss the matter or field guesses.

    It would probably be a good idea to appologise to her for asking someone for her email, since she may not have wished for you to have it, as well as provoking the curiosity of someone about something that she may concider a private matter, and you don't know if your friend is dogging her as well. And for that matter, you didn't mention if she knows your sister, or knows that your sister IS your sister. If it is a competion that she considers a private matter, she may not know how you know about it. If she doesn't know, and you didn't already tell her, you probably should. You can never go wrong with appologising for something you feel you did wrong or didn't approch in the right manner.
  11. 4
    It is for this reason that I do not ask for or give out my email, cell phone, or accept/ask for Facebook info. My patients are my patients, and when they go home, my interaction with them is complete (unless they end up back in my unit). If I see them in a public setting it is for them to approach me to say hello, I will not initiate a conversation. Too many people would see any of the above as an intrusion.
    snuggles49, SnowShoeRN, sevensonnets, and 1 other like this.


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