HIPAA--Mixed up discharge papers

  1. My husband was recently discharged from the hospital following a surgical procedure. I was looking over his discharge papers (after he got home) and realized that he had accidentally been given someone else's discharge papers.

    His own papers were there, but the other guy's were somehow mixed in with them. Now I wonder whose papers the other guy has and what other mixups may have happened in this hospital.

    Would you suggest letting the hospital know about the mixup? Or just quietly shredding those papers and forgetting about them?
    Last edit by JeanettePNP on May 13, '10
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    About JeanettePNP

    Joined: Feb '06; Posts: 1,947; Likes: 1,346
    Pediatric Nurse Practitioner; from US
    Specialty: 2 year(s) of experience in Pediatric pulmonology and allergy


  3. by   caliotter3
    Put a note with them and mail them back, to the Admissions/Discharge Dept. or just shred them. Most people wouldn't even bother to shred them.
  4. by   Batman25
    I'd shred them and move on.
  5. by   S.N. Visit
    I would also shred and move on...
  6. by   JeanettePNP
    I'd be pretty upset with a hospital that let MY papers go floating around to who-knows-where (and who-knows-whom).
  7. by   PAROPPY
    Shred it and Forget it
  8. by   cardiacmadeline
    I would shred them and notify the hospital so they are aware. If they are aware of the error, maybe this will give them an opportunity to improve on something.
  9. by   shiccy
    I'd call / bring them back ....
  10. by   Meriwhen
    Quote from ChayaN
    Would you suggest letting the hospital know about the mixup? Or just quietly shredding those papers and forgetting about them?
    Let them know so they can fix the problem for the future.
  11. by   CrunchRN
    Shred and forget it. Everyone makes mistakes and I don't really think it will be productive to force the issue.

    If you were the nurse doing a million things at once and you inadvertently had this happen wouldn't you hope the other person would just quit reading and shred them?

    No matter how many reminders happen perfection is not attainable! So why cause some poor nurse to have her feet held over the flames by admin?

    Do you never make mistakes?

    If it was a "teachable" moment, and by that i mean a serious mistake or someone repeating a mistake over and over then it would need to be addressed and that is a different situation.

    I would give the person a break and hope that karma would riccochet.......
  12. by   rita359
    I suppose it could be a hipaa violation if you read those discharge papers. If you know it doesn't belong to your husband stop at the name, shred the paper and forget it. We are all human and make mistakes. Why blow this out of proportion?
  13. by   kids
    I'd notify the hospital and ask them what they want to do with the paperwork.
    It's not about good karma or bad, it's not about getting someone in trouble (or not). ANY breakdown in the system can be a teachable moment.

    I went for my annual neuropsych eval few years ago. When the clinic mailed me my records they accidentally sent me the records of someone with significant mental illness. I called them and they over-nighted me a mailer to send them back. The HUGE issue I had with it all was that they could not tell me where MY records were. I returned the records and filed a HIPAA complaint.

    I don't believe you'd be committing a sanctionable HIPAA violation by reading the paperwork but the hospital has committed a huge violation.
  14. by   Sue Damonas
    Several years ago I got my credit card bill and wondered why the envelope was thicker than usual. I ended up not only getting my credit card bill but also 20 other people's bills. All with their credit card number and personal info on them. I called the credit card company and mailed them back immediately.