Nurse looked at my Facebook-HIPAA violation ?

  1. I hope it was okay to register here as I am not a nurse however I am familiar with medical terminology because I was previously interested in the field. I suffer from depression and was recently hospitalized at a psych hospital to get my meds back on track. It wasn't a big deal, I was in and out within a week.

    Anyway, I had really good rapport with one of the nurses. He was actually the only one who I felt did his job well and knew what he was doing. Well after he gave me my meds and we chatted for a bit (the usual how are you sleeping, any thoughts of harming yourself etc.) I went back up to the nurse's station to ask for water and he was turned the other way...looking at his phone-he had pulled up my Facebook page and was going though my pics! I was shocked of course but I tried to act like I didn't notice. When he saw me he put the phone in his pocket really fast.

    It doesn't bother me, but I'm genuinely curious-is it a HIPAA violation for a nurse to simply look at a patient's FB-or only f they add them?

    Thanks in advance and again I hope it's okay for me to be here.
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  2. 37 Comments

  3. by   MunoRN
    It's weird and creepy, but not a HIPAA violation.
  4. by   blondy2061h
    No. Unprofessional but not HIPAA. A HIPAA violation would be if a nurse disclosed something they knew about your medical history to some body who didn't need to know it to provide medical care to you. Facebook is what you posted publically about yourself.
  5. by   verene
    It is not a HIPAA violation (HIPAA pertains to protected HEALTH information, not personal information freely discoverable online) nor is it likely to be against any kind of formal rule (except perhaps a unit rule about not using personal cell phones while working). However it does suggest a lack of appropriate boundaries on the part of the nurse, and adding a patient as a friend on face book *is* ethically questionable.
  6. by   caliotter3
    Not a HIPAA violation, nevertheless he violated boundaries, more serious because of the nature of your hospitalization. Psych type admissions have their own privacy concerns by law. It might not be a bad idea to make a formal complaint. Who knows how far his creepy behavior goes? You might have the opportunity to put him in check.
  7. by   Munch
    Definitely not. Facebook is public information. As others said though it does suggest a lack of boundaries and makes him seem just plain nosey.
  8. by   ponymom
    What... you're on Fakebook with a Public account but don't want the Public looking..... oh that's funny
  9. by   blondy2061h
    Quote from caliotter3
    Not a HIPAA violation, nevertheless he violated boundaries, more serious because of the nature of your hospitalization. Psych type admissions have their own privacy concerns by law. It might not be a bad idea to make a formal complaint. Who knows how far his creepy behavior goes? You might have the opportunity to put him in check.
    I don't really think a formal complaint is justified. Fb very much lets you control privacy settings and clearly this person left theirs to public. That means it's open on the internet to see. It's not really surprising that someone looked at it.
  10. by   blackboxwarning
    Disclaimer: I am not accusing the OP of what I describe in the following scenario. I'm just curious if there would ever be a time when this behavior was appropriate.

    What if...it was going to be a while on a tox screen, but you suspect the patient is lying about drug use? (You'd be surprised the things people disclose on their public profile.) What if you were on a medical recon mission of sorts? Obviously, you wouldn't base any sort of decision on what you found, but it could help point you in the right direction.
  11. by   PlainB
    I believe I said I actually don't care that he looked. I just found it rather odd that a professional would bother to FB me.
  12. by   kakamegamama
    Quote from blackboxwarning
    Disclaimer: I am not accusing the OP of what I describe in the following scenario. I'm just curious if there would ever be a time when this behavior was appropriate.

    What if...it was going to be a while on a tox screen, but you suspect the patient is lying about drug use? (You'd be surprised the things people disclose on their public profile.) What if you were on a medical recon mission of sorts? Obviously, you wouldn't base any sort of decision on what you found, but it could help point you in the right direction.
    ...and the reason I wouldn't use a particular chiropractor who took selfies while boozing it up. However, that's really off topic--

    OP---as others have said, no, it isn't a HIPAA violation, but out of professional boundaries. Yes, I would find it rather odd, too.

    I wish you the best.
  13. by   Mudpinesredneck
    Sounds like a creep, but did you mention something about having a Facebook? Something that happened on it?

    Maybe "Oh, this jerk put such and such on my wall and it made me so angry!!!"

    Maybe he wanted to see it if public to see what you mean?
  14. by   emmjayy
    Quote from PlainB
    I believe I said I actually don't care that he looked. I just found it rather odd that a professional would bother to FB me.
    On the one hand I see your point. On the other, I used to work in a job with similar confidentiality rules as nursing where I was told to look people up on Facebook/Twitter/dating profiles/WHATEVER so we could use that information for the purposes of our job. I have never run into a situation through my experience in a hospital where I've had a professional reason to look at a patient's Facebook account though, and have never really even had a desire to do so. I'm guessing he may have been looking because he was curious about you, which would be unsettling to me if I were you, but also is not against the law. Could be against facility policy though.

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