HIPAA violation?

  1. A few days ago a person posted on a trade site about an individual "Mr. Smith" who had paid her with a hot check. Multiple people chimed in saying that Mr. Smith had also paid them with a hot check. The name looked familiar. I too chimed in and mentioned at my old job Mr. Smith had paid with a hot check and we were instructed not to take any checks from him.

    I remembered incorrectly. It was insurance that didn't cover him and she refused to pay the balance after waking about with material he owed for. The man somehow found out where I worked before, the office, and is now threatening a HIPAA violation toward the employer and me. He has sent multiple harassing messages. I'm a student and not yet a practicing nurse. I'm sleep deprived and wasn't thinking. Could his affect me? Should I be worried? My previous employer contacted me saying the man was filing a HIPAA violation toward both me and the office I worked for. All I said was that he had paid in bad checks and we were told not to take any from him- which isn't even true, it was insurance overage he owed for and refused to pay. Does he have any ground to stand on? I haven't worked this job for over two years.
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  2. 6 Comments

  3. by   chare
    What ever possessed you to do this?

    Without specifics of exactly what you posted (and please dont post anything else pertaining to this) I don't know if this would be a HIPAA violation or not. Regardless, it is likely a privacy violation. And, as what you posted was false and injurious, it might be libelous as well.

    Wishing you the best as yiu work through this.
  4. by   Meriwhen
    He may or may not file that it was a HIPAA violation...nothing you can do about that. And it may or may not be a HIPAA violation--it's hard to tell given what details you provided...and IMO, definitely DO NOT provide more!

    And he could very well file a libel suit against you. We are in a very litigation-happy society. Anyone can--and is often encouraged--to file a lawsuit for any reason. That doesn't mean all those lawsuits will ever make it past the initial stages though. The point being: Mr. Smith does have that right to file. Then they'll determine what leg, if any, he has to stand on.

    If you receive notice of legal action being taken against you, then I would talk to an attorney ASAP. And follow that attorney's advice to a T. Also (and this is IMO), I would NOT talk to Mr. Smith directly, but communicate only through your legal counsel.

    And consider this a lesson learned the hard way for the future.

    Best of luck.
  5. by   JasonBuzestes
    I'm not an expert in HIPAA law but since no personally identifiable health information was released, I think you might be okay but this seems like a bit of a gray area and I'd recommend paying for an hour with a HIPAA attorney to discuss the situation.
  6. by   Orca
    I believe that it was bad judgment on your part to chime in, but information about a bank check is not a HIPAA violation.
  7. by   Double-Helix
    Quote from Orca
    I believe that it was bad judgment on your part to chime in, but information about a bank check is not a HIPAA violation.
    But, stating that a particular person paid (and therefore received services) at a certain clinic may be. Say OP works at a psychiatric treatment center for suicidal patients. Disclosing publicly that Mr. Smith received care there is identifies both the patient (Mr. Smith) and protected health information (diagnosis).
  8. by   Orca
    Quote from Double-Helix
    But, stating that a particular person paid (and therefore received services) at a certain clinic may be. Say OP works at a psychiatric treatment center for suicidal patients. Disclosing publicly that Mr. Smith received care there is identifies both the patient (Mr. Smith) and protected health information (diagnosis).
    Context does play into it, as you mentioned. If it was a clinic that by its very nature disclosed a particular condition, that would be more of an issue than a general hospital or family practice office.

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