I maybe in trouble, HIPPA Violation - page 3

by ms.amy03 18,483 Views | 51 Comments

It might be easier to discuss what I know about HIPPA. I am a nursing student to begin with. From what I've learned is that sharing patient information with those who are not directly involved with that patient's care is wrong.... Read More


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    [QUOTE=Stephalump;7158438Your post was absolutely unprofessional and inappropriate, but none of your school's business without any kind of patient info/location.[/QUOTE]

    Actually, it is your schools business. You are representing THEM. Anything you say or do reflects on them. I almost lost my job because of a situation like that. I made the comment "Total hips, ALL DAY LONG!". I was told that it was a HIPPA violation, makes it look like I don't like my job, and that it reflects poorly on the hospital. No where did it say where I worked or the name of any patients. Our hospital now has a social media policy that says if you have your place of work on your Facebook page, you have to have a disclaimer that your views do not necessarily reflect the views of the hospital. People are being fired over things like this. You have to use common sense. Would you want someone saying those things about you even if they didn't use your name?
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    Quote from Stephalump

    Your post was absolutely unprofessional and inappropriate, but none of your school's business without any kind of patient info/location.
    On the contrary, the school has a valid interest in its own reputation, which is reasonable. If someone searches the OP's posts and discovers what school s/he attends, that can get back to them. So yes, it is their business if one of their students is posting unprofessionally about something that s/he observed or performed while in the student role. We know that there is no HIPAA violation, and frankly, often people scream "HIPAA! HIPAA!" to frighten people without the slightest real understanding of what PHI (protected health information) is, but this is not the issue here.

    So I would anticipate that your punishment would include expressing how embarrassed and sorry you are to have embarrassed the school by your unprofessional words. As my sweet old grandmother used to say, "Some of us are put on this earth to be examples to others," one way or another. You have just done your classmates a service. Go forth and sin no more.
    weemsp, SleeepyRN, Hygiene Queen, and 2 others like this.
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    Schools can feel however they want about how students are representing them, but since we are paying them for their services they do not have carte blanche when it comes to acting on their displeasure.

    We sign a HIPAA acknowledgement agreement when we start our program. I did not sign an "unsavory Facebook posting" agreement. In order to be officially punished, I'd better have broken an official rule, or what protection to any of us have from the subjective whims of the powers that be?

    Odds are the OPs program has no such rule and is hiding behind HIPAA as a loophole, which is complete bunk.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm not actually feeling sorry for the OP. It's a hard lesson to learn, but we all have to learn it. I'm just annoyed at the way people are constantly throwing around HIPAA violations.
    Last edit by Stephalump on Feb 7, '13
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    The case could be made that the posting did not violate HIPAA but that doesn't mean the poster should not be disciplined in some way. She seems to be OK with that and willing to learn from the mistake, so kudos to her.

    As much as our employers -- and in this case the school -- would like to govern and micro-manage our professional and personal lives, the fact is that they can't. So the onus is on us as professionals to govern ourselves and to know what kind of behavior crosses the line, even if it is allowed or not expressly forbidden. Even if no one has written a rule or laid out consequences for this, that, or the other.

    No one can come up with a policy that explores every single possible type of behavior that could possibly be construed as inappropriate or in what way. We would have to sign off on a thousand page legal document if that were the case -- every single time we walk onto a new job or new study program or a new clinical rotation.

    We're already drowning in paperwork as it is.

    We're human, we make mistakes. We're also in a profession that requires us to have a heightened sense of accountability and a lot less wiggle room to be our naturally flawed selves -- at least in public. That's the nature of the job. Our patients need to be able to trust us to be looking out for their best interests, our employers need to know that we are up to the task.

    There are hundreds of applicants out there for every nursing job, so best strategy to survive in this market is to keep private lives and thoughts and impulses private. May not be fair, but it is what it is.
    CLoGreenEyes likes this.
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    I'm not saying she shouldn't be punished strictly because there wasn't a policy. That's part of it, but I don't agree that there should be such a policy to begin with. I don't think she should be punished at all. Talked to, yes. Counseled on the possible real world repercussions of similar behavior in the future? Yes. Punished for a HIPAA violation, no.

    My school does not own me. I pay THEM. I keep my rights to free speech and all that jazz unless I sign them away. Plenty of people willingly sign them away for education (private/religious schools come to mind), and that's cool, but you know what you're getting into.

    My school as a whole would never react to a post like that in such a way. But for some reason, the nursing programs seem to think they own students in a different way. Almost like we're employees. Probably stems from the days when that actually was the case.

    I haven't joined a convent and the only time I expect my behavior to matter is when I'm in school or clinicals...unless I'm told otherwise. I lead a rather boring life, so it's not actually an issue, but it's the principle of the matter.
    Last edit by Stephalump on Feb 7, '13
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    OP.....the lesson here is......STAY OFF SOCIAL MEDIA with ANY work/school posts. It isn't worth the trouble it causes even if it isn't a HIPAA violation....AND....keep your FB page private. No work "friends" No "school" buddies. If you feel some need to stay connected with these people get another page. Keep your private life private and your work life work....keep work off social media.

    Many facilities, hospitals, schools are over zealous and throw the term HIPAA around freely to intimidate and frighten everyone into submission and obedience. I do not know the exact contents of what you posted but it sounds like you did not have a "HIPAA" violation.....however.....you probably violated the schools privacy policy/confidentiality/social media policy.

    Here is a social media policy from a nursing school.....University of Carolina. Most of these confidentiality/HIPAA policies clearly state no posting of anything related to your schooling on social media sites.

    You need to apologize and state that you have learned a valuable lesson......Not only about privacy, professionalism, confidentiality, and HIPAA but about reading everything completely before you sign it...for you will be held liable for your actions.

    I am sorry you are going through this ((HUGS)). I hope everything works out in your favor.

    Take a look at this thread/article by GrnTea The answer: Is this a HIPAA violation?
    CLoGreenEyes likes this.
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    Quote from Stephalump
    Schools can feel however they want about how students are representing them, but since we are paying them for their services they do not have carte blanche when it comes to acting on their displeasure.
    Schools are not a 'customer service' based venture. For them reputation is everything. Suppose after clinicals a student went to the bar in their school issued clinical uniform. The student had a few too many and began dancing on the tables and seductively removing said uniform. You better believe the school has the right to protect their reputation by punishing the student, up to and including dismissal from the school. Just because the student is paying the school, that does not give the student carte blanche to behave badly.
    OCNRN63, Altra, Hygiene Queen, and 1 other like this.
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    Quote from Stephalump
    but I don't agree that there should be such a policy to begin with.
    So here is a school trying to attract good students. A prospective student is researching the school. A FB page comes up during a google search and there are several posts by students expressing their disgust about the clinical rotation including a post about vaginas and onions. I would think a top students would stop considering that school right there. I believe the school has to defend their reputation and having a social media policy is part of that defense.
    OCNRN63 and GrnTea like this.
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    Quote from psu_213

    Schools are not a 'customer service' based venture. For them reputation is everything. Suppose after clinicals a student went to the bar in their school issued clinical uniform. The student had a few too many and began dancing on the tables and seductively removing said uniform. You better believe the school has the right to protect their reputation by punishing the student, up to and including dismissal from the school. Just because the student is paying the school, that does not give the student carte blanche to behave badly.
    I think all my drunken table dancing in college was done in school t-shirts or jackets. It was what we did, and the school had no course of action to punish us for sullying their good name. And I went to a private, insanely expensive Baptist school.

    It's just too subjective. If they didn't approve of open homosexual behavior (which would definitely "mar" a Christian school's reputation...out you would go! Pray to Allah? Out! Tattoos? Out? Pregnant out of wedlock? Out! Smoke? Out! Write bad professor reviews online? Out!

    But it doesn't work that way in most schools. It just doesn't. Nursing programs inside of schools seem to think it should.

    I can get behind a social media policy, mostly because it's really a fantastic protection for the student. When you're young and dumb, it's best to have a nice clear easy boundary to respect, rather than walk the fine HIPAA line. Just don't talk about clinicals. Don't talk about tests. Don't talk negatively about your professors.

    I was in a class once where the instructor really was terrible. Nice lady, but terrible teacher.

    Students took to emailing each other through the school's email system about their reasonable (at least I thought so) complaints. No horrible name calling or anything like that. Just complaining about things.

    Another student decided to print out all of the emails and hand them in to our professor. We ALL paid for that one. She actually went so far as to deactivate our class web page so we couldn't communicate so easily.

    I got the second highest grade in the class, and my grade was a C. I wasn't even part of the fiasco and had to learn that lesson the hard way. If you don't have anything nice to say, say it to your husband or best friend...NOT anyone remotely related to your program.
    weemsp and GrnTea like this.
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    Can I be real? I just wouldn't want to read anyone's FB post about vaginas and onions, period, no matter if I'm a work friend or a school friend or your best friend since pre-school.

    OP, regardless of whether this was a HIPAA violation or just an unprofessional mistake, I think this is a good reason to consider finding another venue through which to digest your clinical experiences. Within the right context, sharing a joke here and there is not a problem, but there's definitely a time and place for them. Co-workers or fellow students who share clinical experiences with you will almost definitely be able to relate to these things a lot better than your average Facebook friend; and it's just better not to put some things in writing. I share plenty of sidelong glances and wisecracks with the CNAs and RNs where I work, because they are the ones who will understand, but I know my boyfriend, family, and friends will not be so enamored with what we perceive as funny. Just my two-pence.

    I hope everything works out OK with this unknown punishment. You sound like you understand what went wrong and are willing to make it right and learn from it, so hopefully they will give you the opportunity to do that.
    linzjane88 and psu_213 like this.


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