Lost job over HIPAA violation, what is employment potential? - page 3

by RockyMountainHigh

54,909 Views | 65 Comments

Hi a relative of mine was an RN. She just lost her job over a HIPAA violation. She took a cellphone picture of a patient and sent it to a friend. She later had a falling out with the friend and he threatened to forward the... Read More


  1. 0
    Quote from caroladybelle
    My regrets but THIS WAS NOT A HARMLESS MISTAKE.

    It does not matter that the hospital environment was not easily identifiable.

    The Federal government has instituted prohibitively high fines and/or JAIL TIME for violations of HIPAA.

    Any violations of HIPAA, period. Regardless of "harm".

    The risk management department of every single facility in this nation has spent prohibitive amounts of money on paperwork and training to prevent incidents like what your friend did. Virtually all staffers have to go through REPEATED training and signing papers to uphold privacy. And that time is expensive not to mention inconvenient to those that have to sign the same paperwork and do yearly training on something that should be common sense.

    In several hospitals, just accessing data of some individuals has gotten staffers fired and reported to the Board/Federal authorities...even when that info has not been sent to outside sources or publicized. They have been in trouble for merely looking at records.

    And recently, at least one person has been jailed over violation of HIPAA.

    Every single incident of violation of HIPAA can and may still cost her facility thousands of dollars for fees, not to mention money spent "correcting deficits" mandated for the violation of HIPAAand legal expenses.

    Please do not say this was a "harmless mistake". It was an act that costs a great deal money and could have easily cost her license and possibly her freedom. And it was one that she had ample information and training to teach her NOT to do this. And a decade of experience should have taught her that. Nurses, unfortunately, get fired for much less. And it is an action that could easily have serious repercussions on how her former coworkers are treated.

    This also was not an understandable error, like a fax sent to an incorrect phone number, but willful act with no acceptable purpose.

    It may seem minor to you, but no, it certainly was not harmless. Thus, the reason for the loss of her job. And she got off easy at that.

    You may not like hearing that but that is a serious issue to risk management. And that will affect her ability to get another job. A decade of experience may be great but it often will not trump making a mistake that will cost a facility legal fees, fines, and dealing with the Feds. I have seen really excellent nurses not get hired for less.
    When I say "harmless" I mean that there was no negative impact to the patient in question and I stand by that. I'm well aware of the legal issues, moral, financial, etc.
  2. 0
    Tell her to resign, it's best to leave a hospital that way.(trust me) also when she applies to another job, on the reason why she left: DON'T PUT I MADE A HIPPA VIOLATION put "seeking other experience" or whatever. b/c you won't get hired. i've been told by several HR directors that when they call to "verify" employement all they ask is did he/she work there and how long. they "rarely" ask if he/she is eligble for re-hire. the reason being is it's a liability if they ask the "eligible for re-hire" question and they hire you and something happens down the line, a smart attorney can make a case for "pattern of conduct or whatever".
    don't worry it happens to everyone, it's one of those things that you live and learn.
  3. 4
    Quote from RockyMountainHigh
    When I say "harmless" I mean that there was no negative impact to the patient in question and I stand by that.
    I guess that would be up to the patient to decide ...
    Spidey's mom, roser13, Batman25, and 1 other like this.
  4. 2
    Sorry, I am in agreement with Caroladybelle.

    This is a Federal Offense...your friend may not have had malicious intent, but this was very serious.
    She was fortunate to be allowed to resign, there was a very real chance of an arrest and fines or worse.

    I recently attended a BON hearing and there was a case where the RN violated HIPAA and the board sanctioned the license. Reprimand, stiff fines and manditory CEUs...they were looking at a suspension.

    Not really a harmless offense.

    I still have a hard time understanding why the photograph was taken in the first place.
    Care to enlighten us? Maybe we could understand a little more.
    s
    cookienay and bosslpn like this.
  5. 0
    I am aware of people being fired over HIPAA violations and others who have had lawsuits with judgements involving jail time. HIPAA guidelines are getting even stricter so I agree that this nurse must be mature enough to realize the mistake and never do it again.
    How do you know of the patient was hurt? Was it a humorous picture from a funny dx? a very good looking person? a gruesome wound? If the patient did not give permission how do you know they were not hurt? and if they gave permission did they approve forwarding the picture to others? I know I wouldn't want someone to take my picture and forward it ti friends if I were sick in the hospital.
    When I was a nursing student one facility I trained at took pictures of patient wounds on admission--- with three documents the patient had to sign in advance!!!! So facilities do not take HIPAA lightly.
    I wish her luck in finding gainful employment but it may be in a less attractive setting than she was hoping for.
  6. 6
    What would possess a professional nurse to whip out a cell phone and photograph a patient?

    If there was a justifiable reason to photograph a patient, and consent had been obtained, a hospital-owned and controlled camera wold be used in order to maintain control over the disposition of the picture.

    I hate to over-generalize, but anyone foolish enough to use a personal cell phone to photograph a patient (or any part thereof) lacks the good sense and judgement to be responsible for the well-being of others.

    This isn't the beach or a family reunion, for goodness sakes!
  7. 0
    is getting terminated for a hipaa violation a reportable offense????:redpinkhe
  8. 0
    I have to agree with some of the ladies here.. In no way was this harmless. You do not know that it wasn't harmful to the patient because you haven't questioned the patient. I am not yet a nurse (I start nursing school in August), but I have worked in the medical field and understand HIPAA policies. I think that to NOT reveal details of the HIPAA violation to future employers is morally wrong. I believe that any future employer should have the knowledge of the offense. Similar to how on any application, you need to list felonies and misdemeanors. Only difference between her situation and that is that she wasn't charged. I think about the fact that if I was a patient in the hospital, would I want to be treated by someone who violated the privacy of others? NO! At the very least, she needs to be put through some more SERIOUS HIPAA training!!
  9. 0
    Quote from bosslpn
    is getting terminated for a hipaa violation a reportable offense????:redpinkhe
    Reportable to whom?
  10. 0
    reportable to the bon............


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