Is this legal???

  1. The hospital I work for is mandating all staff to complete a form so we can apparently be fitted for respirators in the event of a bio-terrorist attack. This form asks the usual health questions you might expect with regard to the fitting of a mask (demographics, clausrtophobia) but it also goes into detailed personal health history.
    I don't fully understand why they need to know my hobbies and homelife environment for example. (I understand the rationale for them knowing may help differentiate pre-existing illness from bio-terr. exposure) I just feel like this is a major violation of privacy. Do they have a right to ask? This form states it is mandatory for all information including health Hx and complete medication list. I would appreciate any opinions. The state I practice nursing in is Michigan.
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  2. 16 Comments

  3. by   chris_at_lucas_RN
    Anyone has a right to "ask." Probably they don't have a right to effectively make it a condition of (continuing) employment.
  4. by   Destinystar
    :chuckle dont take it to personally. sounds like a form that someone is using to meet some guidline. i would just put down "i prefer not to answer". or i would put down silly answers just to turn adversity into an opportunity to have fun. hobbies: collecting pennys homelife environment: not worth mentioning, etc. i doubt anyone ever reads this stuff. just gets filed somewhere.[ like if there was a bioterroist attack, dont you think you would be exposed for a good long while before you finally figured out what was going on? and do you know where your respirator is?? like where do they come up with this stuff??quote=critcarenurse16]the hospital i work for is mandating all staff to complete a form so we can apparently be fitted for respirators in the event of a bio-terrorist attack. this form asks the usual health questions you might expect with regard to the fitting of a mask (demographics, clausrtophobia) but it also goes into detailed personal health history.
    i don't fully understand why they need to know my hobbies and homelife environment for example. (i understand the rationale for them knowing may help differentiate pre-existing illness from bio-terr. exposure) i just feel like this is a major violation of privacy. do they have a right to ask? this form states it is mandatory for all information including health hx and complete medication list. i would appreciate any opinions. the state i practice nursing in is michigan.[/quote]
  5. by   mscsrjhm
    Gotta agree with Destiny: "Not applicable".
  6. by   critcarenurse16
    [quote=destinystar]:chuckle dont take it to personally. sounds like a form that someone is using to meet some guidline. i would just put down "i prefer not to answer". or i would put down silly answers just to turn adversity into an opportunity to have fun. hobbies: collecting pennys homelife environment: not worth mentioning, etc. i doubt anyone ever reads this stuff. just gets filed somewhere.[ like if there was a bioterroist attack, dont you think you would be exposed for a good long while before you finally figured out what was going on? and do you know where your respirator is?? like where do they come up with this stuff??

    thanks, i have no doubt they pulled some generic form from the net.
    i had some fun filling in the blanks; age- " 30 something" sex- "please" ... most of the demographics are already in my file because i've only woked here for the past 7 yrs- you'd think they know me by now. anyway-- thanks for your advice
  7. by   Mary Austin
    I had to be fitted with this mask also. I never put down my meds I am on nor do I release any info about medical conditions. How interesting that HIPPA is in place and they come out with a form like this. Just leave the things blank or put none. It is a sneaky way of gathering health info on employees, that's all.
  8. by   fergus51
    Quote from Mary Austin
    I had to be fitted with this mask also. I never put down my meds I am on nor do I release any info about medical conditions. How interesting that HIPPA is in place and they come out with a form like this. Just leave the things blank or put none. It is a sneaky way of gathering health info on employees, that's all.
    It's important to note that some medical conditions DO affect a workers ability to work with a mask. We went through all this with the SARS outbreak and some nurses on the unit with respiratory issues (like asthma) and other health conditions (like anemia) were unable to work with the masks, so when they were required the nurses were put on PAID leave. Without the documentation, they would have either had to try to work at the risk of their own health or stay home without pay.
  9. by   Mary Austin
    Well of course, respiratory illnesses should be revealed. I guess I would opt for PAID leave then. When SARS hits our hospital...I am out of there! I will just take an early retirement! Almost debt free anyway.....
  10. by   fergus51
    LOL! Lucky you! I didn't have the savings to retire when it was in our hospital I just had to suck it up and spend the day breathing in my own CO2.
  11. by   Havin' A Party!
    Quote from fergus51
    ... just had to suck it up and spend the day breathing in my own CO2.
    Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!
  12. by   NurseRatchetSr
    Tell 'em to take a good look at the new HIPAA law ! That ought to turn their heads a little and make em spit green...
  13. by   VivaLasViejas
    My hospital did this same sort of thing when I was re-hired there last year. I've worked there on & off for years, so this was a new twist that I didn't particularly care for, although I was assured by the employee health nurse that the information was strictly confidential. (Yeah, and I'm from the government and I'm here to help you.) Well, I did confess to being severely claustrophobic so I could get out of the annual fit-testing.....I went through it once and spent 15 minutes just fighting off the panic......besides, how often do you lose or gain enough weight to affect the fit of a respirator?!

    But the fact that I also take daily medication for depression and generalized anxiety disorder is nothing I care to disclose.......my mental health is NONE of my employer's business as long as it remains stable, and unless a random UA reveals I'm on benzodiazepines, I see no need to discuss it. :stone
  14. by   Gompers
    We just did the same thing, and I didn't find it was an invasion of privacy at all. I just took it as asking important questions that might make a difference should the occasion arise when we all have to wear these things. They asked our height, weight, smoking status, if we were claustrophobic, if we had tasting/smelling difficulties, and if we had any cardiac or respiratory problems. They're not asking because they're nosey - they need to know who can wear these masks and who can't!

    We had to wear disposable masks and have a hood put over our head, and they put a sweet or bitter tasting substance into the air, to see if we could taste it or not. If not, we knew the mask fit, and if we could taste it, there was a problem and the mask was not protecting us from gases.

    I just don't really understand why this is such a legal issue, I suppose.

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