It's only a HIPAA violation if someone could reasonably deduce who you're talking about by the details you give. I tend to get around that by creating "composites", changing details, changing timeline, etc. The patient I had last week may have been from 2015, the guy I mentioned may be a composite of three separate patients I saw, etc. I think it's natural to discuss things through with your loved ones, they can help one cope. I've had things at work that have been tough to cope with emotionally, and it's very helpful being able to talk it out with a small number of loved ones (parents, sister, best friend, grandfather, and very close family friend, especially the family friend because he always has amazing advice with regard to coping, how to look at things, etc). Give very little detail, just the basics like "None of us were able to figure out what to do for a patient in distress, not even the MD, and I felt so powerless and guilty". etc.