Recently an old alcoholic was brought into our hospital by his drinking buddies. Somehow in the ER his 'buddies' got themselves down on the release of info form. His family was not even aware the old guy was even in the hospital for days and were very angry. These 'friends' manipulated the system to their benefit.
The pulmonologist refused to discuss the case with the old man's daughter. It broke her heart and things will likely end up in court, cuz the man died while his 'buddies' were trying to run the show and eliminate family ...tearful daughter says they robbed him while he was in the hospital....broke into his home, stole $$$ and credit cards, car disappeared, etc.
This HIPPa stuff in action. Sometimes it really sux.
Nurses who routinely break HIPPA rules make it hard on those of us who are being careful. Some nurses tell everybody everything and then WE are the bad guys when we take the cautious road..
A point not mentioned yet is that it is wise for a nurse to not divulge TOO MUCH data to anxious family members... who frequently brood and obsess over details they do not understand. I've had families calling every 15 minutes in ICU for lab results and watching monitors like hawks worried about every little blip....things that they don't really need to be worrying about. I suspect some nurses enjoy an audience ... like to lecture and explain minutiae...which is really unhelpful to anxious family, IMO.
I agree its the doctors job to discuss details of medical diagnoses and prognosis. They don't pay us to make them look good....so let them do their job. In time we find our comfort zones and how to manage the millions of questions from anxious family; also how and when to turf questions to the physician.
Something I learned fast in ICU is some families will completely dominate your time if you allow it. Setting limits and boundaries is very important. So many ICU nurses I know burn out letting family control their entire shift....particularly in the open visiting setting I just left.
Good luck to you!!