Hipaa violation?

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    I work in a small OB/GYN office and often have to double duty as phone triage and front desk. We nurses always sit at the "back" phone, but obviously have to have conversations regarding results, sx, etc with patients. We never use the patients full name. I had a patient complain yesterday that she heard a person's 1st name and that they were anemic, etc and said it is a HIPAA violation? I was under the impression that not using the last name would protect the patients privacy. I am feeling like the complainer is just that (as least the MD thinks so) but I just want to rest my conscience. Never had a similar complaint before as we try our best to be private and discreet!
    Last edit by snowphobe on Jan 31, '13
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  3. 4 Comments so far...

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    Unless it is an incredibly unique name and you work in a small town, I don't see the problem. And as far as I'm aware, hipaa requires you to make every reasonable attempt to protect privacy, which it sounds like you are.

    ~ No One Can Make You Feel Inferior Without Your Consent -Eleanor Roosevelt ~
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    HIPAA, not HIPPA

    HIPAA requires that health care providers make reasonable efforts to protect and prevent the disclosure of personal health information. 100% secrecy is not possible, especially when busybodies are involved.

    Unless you live in an extremely small town and this patient has an extremely unique first name, there is no reason for concern. This lady is a troublemaker. A reasonable person would never have mentioned hearing anything.
    GrnTea likes this.
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    Thanks guys. I did change the acronym (blush). I felt she was being a bit sensitive to put it nicely. We live in a town of 12,000 in summer, 30,000 in winter - and the pt. has a VERY common name. Thanks again.....
    GrnTea likes this.
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    I also vote that you didn't violate HIPAA. I also agree that the eavesdropper has a bit too much time on her hands. Perhaps she knows someone with that same first name and who she knows sees a doctor at your facility, and jumped to the conclusion that you had to be talking about this person.

    That being said, it is also a good reminder about being careful where you discuss patient information. Not saying you were wrong in this instance...but just to always keep your surroundings--the where, when and particularly in this case, the who--in mind.
    GrnTea likes this.


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