Did my friend violate hipaa?

  1. Hello all new poster here, I have a quick question.

    Last week my classmates and I were talking about our day. We were all in different sections of the hospital.

    anyway another classmate asked my friend how was her day because she wasn't speaking. My friend said; "my day is going fine, the unit isn't what I expected though. I thought it would be like T.V with people running around panicking." Lol...

    anyway my friend then said "most of the patients there are for neuro problems, my patients had strokes."

    thats all my friend said, a minute or so later she noticed that a hospital employee seemed to be listening into the conversation. She said the woman he "devious eyes" lol

    my friend is paranoid, so I'm trying to get advice to calm her down. Did she violate hipaa? Can she get in trouble for saying something as vague as she did because she said it in the cafeteria? She's normally very quiet and hardly says a word but she had a slip. She thinks that woman is going to report her.
    Last edit by FRnursemurse on Feb 8
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  2. 6 Comments

  3. by   FRnursemurse
    No responses? Lol,This was a scenario I actually made up because I was debating this scenario with my friend.

    She believes you could speak vaguely as long as you leave out identifiers and I thought you weren't suppose to mention anything at all ever, unless it's with the patients team.

    Am I right or her? Is a diagnosis like copd, stroke or heart disease a identifier? Would a location like elevator or cafeteria change the scenario
  4. by   JKL33
    There's HIPAA and then there are an employer's privacy practices. There's also professionalism and common human decency.

    Discussing any clinical thing in an elevator is not appropriate whether it officially violates HIPAA or not. It's not what we want to portray to others sharing the elevator (or overhearing the conversation in the cafeteria). We are professionals who are caring for those who are very sick and vulnerable.

    That's why we don't do it. Most times it wouldn't be a HIPAA violation, but that doesn't make it right.

    Imagine your loved one being in very critical condition and when you allow yourself 10 measly minutes away from the bedside, you take the elevator to the cafeteria and somewhere in that process you overhear two professionals discussing someone (a patient, a human being) who's a "trach-peg" or who "bled out" or "stroked" or any number of other things. Not cool. How devastating to think that the people you are relying on are so....well, callous.

    We do have to discuss things amongst ourselves and for the most part I don't believe we are calloused in the way the general public might misundertand us to be. But I think this is pretty serious. There is a time and a place. We don't ever "have" to make small talk about clinical things in public spaces.
  5. by   Wuzzie
    Quote from FRnursemurse
    No responses? Lol,This was a scenario I actually made up because I was debating this scenario with my friend.
    Why didn't you just present this as a scenario you and a friend were debating? We like to help students but we don't particularly "LOL" at being lied to. Going forward you might find the members here disinclined to answer your questions not trusting that you are being genuine.

    That being said, you should not discuss anything about any patient in public areas...ever.
  6. by   FRnursemurse
    I'm so sorry, wasn't my intention please forgive me. I was just trying to teach my friend about proper etiquette when she starts clinical. She has this idea that as long as it's vague it's fine even in the cafeteria or elevator.

    I apologize again, I'm new here so I'll learn better forum etiquette along with my friend learning about professional etiquette

    only reason why I did this was to paint a scenario as it actually happens because this kind of thing is very common among nursing students
    Last edit by FRnursemurse on Feb 8 : Reason: additional info
  7. by   Wuzzie
    Quote from FRnursemurse
    I'm so sorry, wasn't my intention please forgive me. I was just trying to teach my friend about proper etiquette when she starts clinical. She has this idea that as long as it's vague it's fine even in the cafeteria or elevator.

    I apologize again, I'm new here so I'll learn better forum etiquette along with my friend learning about professional etiquette
    Completely forgiven and thank you for taking constructive criticism like a champ. You'll be fine. Just don't talk about patients in the cafe!
  8. by   FRnursemurse
    I guess we're both wrong because I swore cafe talk was a hipaa violation. Even if it's just something like "my patients had copd or a stroke."

    I do see it now as more of a professional issue now though.

    Her reasoning for her stance was that a stroke or copd wasn't in the patient identifiers outlined by hipaa but it still crosses professional boundaries as you said.

    edit: in response to jkl33, I forgot to quote

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