A friend's Mother is a patient

  1. 0
    So I am about half way through RN school and tonight something interesting happened to me and I have questions that hopefully someone here can help me with.

    For starters, this took place in NYS.

    I was on the floor tonight when a friend spotted me and called me over. His mother was a patient on the floor where I was doing my rotation. He introduced me to her and his father and I never asked any medical questions, not even why she was in the hospital. She volunteered a few things on her own but for the most part we just engaged in some chit chat. She was concerned about her allergy to penicillin not being on her wrist band so I promised to ask her nurse for her about checking her record (not me but the attending nurse) and getting back to her about it.

    I told them about using proper hand hygiene just to be safe and said I would stop in to see if she needed anything later on. I also explained that I couldn't look into her chart or do anything treatment oriented with her, but would be willing to help out in any other fashion I was legally able to. Fresh pillow, sheets, utensils, that sort of stuff. I even told my friend when he told me to send his regards to my wife that I couldn't because of privacy rights.

    So the problem came later when I saw my friend leave the room with his coat while talking with another student and went over to say goodbye. My professor saw me and told me I couldn't go near any of them because of HIPAA regulations. Now she is more knowledgeable than I by far but I am pretty sure that I wasn't in violation of any laws.

    Was I wrong? I mean, we're told to help with any and all patient's on the floor and not just the ones assigned to us so this really got under my skin and she didn't seem to have the time or desire to explain this to me. So hopefully someone here can!

    Thanks in advance.
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  3. 16 Comments so far...

  4. 1
    I don't think you are. I can't figure out what you have done wrong. How many times do we run into people we know at work?

    If I'm incorrect, I need to be educated as well. Now if you had gone through the chart, etc.. then as you have already stated, you would have been in violation.
    Last edit by tokmom on Feb 17, '12
    canoehead likes this.
  5. 3
    I don't think you did anything wrong.How could it be a violation to speak to someone you know? I don't think we are required to pretend we don't know people.Goodness,I work in the town I grew up in,I always see people I know at work.
    Last edit by loriangel14 on Feb 17, '12 : Reason: spelling
  6. 0
    Thanks. I kinda of thought I was following the rules so it was just confusing to basically be reprimanded for it. I think I'll try and formulate a very polite email asking for clarification from my professor. I mean, when I start working professionally this is gonna happen all the time (it's that kind of town). My wife encounters this regularly as a nurse and she just never tells me. I only find out later on when the friend brings it up that he or she was at her hospital and saw her there, which is the way it should be.
  7. 7
    While it sounds like your professor may need to brush up on his/her knowledge of HIPAA, I wouldn't be sending emails questioning it as a student. Ultimately this is your professor and is in charge of whether you make it to the next level or not. I wouldn't be making waves as a student.
    efiebke, LobotRN, sapphire18, and 4 others like this.
  8. 0
    Agree with ckh23 ... just let this go. You seem pretty clear about the non-negotiables of HIPAA, and that's all that's needed for now.
  9. 0
    You are not wrong. At all. Your professor is fearing for herself.
  10. 0
    Wait until you are working and follow the policies of your employer.
  11. 5
    I don't think you did anything wrong either. Your instructor was probably being a little over-cautious, playing it safe because she is not 100% sure of your abilities to walk that fine line between appropriate and inappropriate. Wanting to avoid any appearance or hint of inappropriate behavior, she erred on the side of caution. That's understandable.
    efiebke, Naturalist, Altra, and 2 others like this.
  12. 1
    You did nothing wrong!

    You could have given his reguards to your wife as well. It's not against HIPPA at all. The person gave you permission too. You can walk into any hospital and visit a friend and you are allowed to know anything they tell you. HIPPA protects their privacy and if they chose to tell you anything they certainly can.

    Going through a chart, talking to a doctor, getting info from the persons wife is all a HIPPA violation but talking to the patient is not.
    Nurse_Extern likes this.


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