HIPAA violation

  1. 0
    I am being accused by my employer that I violated HIPAA. I filed a complaint with Dept of Public Health/Board of Nursing against my previous boss, who has been terminated, as she was most likely (which is why the complaint was filed) forging nurses signatures and altering patient records.

    As part of the complaint form provided by DPH, it states to send "attach copies of documents such as: witness statements, medical records, copies of prescriptions, photographs etc that support your statements."

    I faxed medical records--- nursing notes and medication lists. I blacked out ALL pt identifying information and actually wrote that I had blacked these items out to protect patient confidentiality.

    Did I violate HIPAA? I feel as though this is retaliation for reporting. I also know that other nurses whom I work with filed complaints and faxed in medical records also.

    help

    scared nurse
  2. 13 Comments so far...

  3. 1
    Are you sure this is the reason you're being accused? If so, how would they even know you did it?

    If the papers had all identifying information blacked out completely, I don't see a problem.

    I think you need to contact a lawyer...how about contacting your nursing malpractice insurance company and seeing if they can help you?

    Why would your employer retaliate for actions taken by your terminated boss?
    lrobinson5 likes this.
  4. 1
    Agreed, I don't see how it's a HIPPA violation if the records that you are giving has no patient information on it. How can they tell what patient it belongs to? They can't.
    canoehead likes this.
  5. 1
    There was a case in Tx where an adminstrator, a doctor & a sheriff tried that sort of garbage against 2 nurses reporting misconduct to the appropriate board.

    The nurses were exonerated, and the three are facing criminal charges.

    It's likely you are completely protected under the law, but you may want to contact your state bar association for a low cost referral for clarification.
    canoehead likes this.
  6. 2
    bear in mind that there are more people in health care who have no frickin' idea of what hipaa means than you can imagine. i like to say, "i can't tell you that because of hipaa" means, "i was too lazy to get up and look it up in the binder on the other side of the nurses' station/i slept through that inservice." some of these people are in management. do yourself a huge favor and go to the ocr.gov website and look at the hipaa faqs, or google them. print them out. in this case, they are your dear friend. check also the parts about sharing information with regulatory and government agencies (like dph and bon).

    if you have blacked out all patient identifying data in your fax submission, you have not violated hipaa. of course it's intimidation on the part of the employer; whoever their mouthpiece is, is one of those ignorant clucks. don't be intimidated. pity them.

    you do have malpractice insurance, right? if so, call them and ask about the lawyer you're able to get from them. if not, call your state nurses association and tell them your story. they will be interested.
    3rdcareerRN and canoehead like this.
  7. 0
    According to my hospital's policy, the medical record, or any part of the patient's chart, is the property of the hospital. Removing it from the hospital (ie. making copies and mailing them) without the hospitals permission, if a violation. Regardless of whether the patient's information is blacked out. Maybe not a HIPAA violation, but definately a violation of the hospital policy and possibly theft.

    You should contact a lawyer about this allegation and the best way to handle it.
  8. 0
    Quote from Bee_home care
    I am being accused by my employer that I violated HIPAA. I filed a complaint with Dept of Public Health/Board of Nursing against my previous boss, who has been terminated, as she was most likely (which is why the complaint was filed) forging nurses signatures and altering patient records.

    As part of the complaint form provided by DPH, it states to send "attach copies of documents such as: witness statements, medical records, copies of prescriptions, photographs etc that support your statements."

    I faxed medical records--- nursing notes and medication lists. I blacked out ALL pt identifying information and actually wrote that I had blacked these items out to protect patient confidentiality.

    Did I violate HIPAA? I feel as though this is retaliation for reporting. I also know that other nurses whom I work with filed complaints and faxed in medical records also.

    help

    scared nurse
    Don't be scared anymore. You did NOT violate HIPAA. The DPH may request the information including patient information in the future, as I think they will need this for the whole picture. But you are not in violation of HIPAA.
  9. 1
    As a whistleblower, you are protected.
    canoehead likes this.
  10. 0
    Thanks everyone

    I am reassured that I did not break HIPAA regs. My attorney believes this is a retaliatory action by my employer as some of you mentioned and says that I am protected under Whistleblower law.

    Other nurses who I work with also sent medical records as part of their complaints, so there is hopefully strength in numbers also.

    As a home care nurse, we ALWAYS have medical records out of the office, as most of us have home offices.

    any more thoughts?

    less scared nurse (but still scared)
  11. 0
    Quote from Bee_home care
    Thanks everyone

    I am reassured that I did not break HIPAA regs. My attorney believes this is a retaliatory action by my employer as some of you mentioned and says that I am protected under Whistleblower law.

    Other nurses who I work with also sent medical records as part of their complaints, so there is hopefully strength in numbers also.

    As a home care nurse, we ALWAYS have medical records out of the office, as most of us have home offices.

    any more thoughts?

    less scared nurse (but still scared)
    Don't be scared. Someone is trying to "Rambo" you!


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