nottanurse1: What your husband's ex did was unethical, illegal, and a breach of patient confidentiality. It is common, upon beginning employment, to sign a patient confidentiality agreement. My institution requires every employee not only to attend an inservice on patient confidentiality, but also to sign a confidentiality contract. To breach this contract, most likely, would lead to disciplinary action and/or termination. Throughout the country, nurses have been brought up before their State Board of Nursing Examiners for breaching confidentiality.
You didn't state the patient's specific relationship to you (other than being a family member), so I'm wondering why you are even involved in this. Unless this specifically involves you, your spouse, or any of the children, you should consider taking the high road and staying out of this matter. Your step kids won't suffer any permanent damage from the information their
mother disclosed, but she should speak to them and tell them that it was inappropriate for her to be discussing confidential matter.
I'm not downplaying her actions; she used very poor judgement, and the (patient) family member involved should consider contacting the employer stating the facts. The employer will follow-up on this. What would the motive be for suing? It is doubtful that the patient suffered any permanent damage from the indiscretion, and a lawsuit would not only be frivilous, but would further divide a family.
Hug the kids, stay out of it, and move on. You will never regret taking the high road.
[This message has been edited by susanmary (edited February 16, 2001).]