Nurses can't be punished for violating HIPAA - page 2

by MikeyBSN

I see a lot of HIPAAphobia in the nursing realm. I have read several stories about nurses terrified of being fined or being exposed to criminal penalties for HIPAA violations. I have read in nursing text and literature about... Read More


  1. 2
    Quote from Comis
    What?!? Your thread title is "Nurses can't be punished for violating HIPAA", but you admitted in your original post that nurses definitely can be punished for violating HIPAA. You know as well as I do that most nurses reading this won't care at all about how likely they are to be federally prosecuted. That means nothing, because they can still easily lose their job (and along with it any recommendation for any decent job in the future) because of a HIPAA violation. Federal prosecution (or the lack thereof) is pretty much meaningless for the average nurse.

    Your point that any given nurse is extremely unlikely to be federally prosecuted is true, but it's a purely intellectual argument. It's more or less meaningless in the context of day to day nursing practice and job security.
    When I worked as a state and CMS surveyor a number of years ago, I saw several RNs get summarily fired because they had inappropriately disclosed protected information (or were suspected of having done so) and thereby put the employer at risk of HIPAA enforcement (and consequences of having violated state privacy rules). Not only were they fired on the spot, but they were certainly going to get the worst possible references from that employer in the future (in perpetuity ).

    So, yeah, nurses get "punished for violating HIPAA" all the time.
    nursel56 and GrnTea like this.
  2. 1
    Quote from Comis
    What?!? Your thread title is "Nurses can't be punished for violating HIPAA", but you admitted in your original post that nurses definitely can be punished for violating HIPAA. You know as well as I do that most nurses reading this won't care at all about how likely they are to be federally prosecuted. That means nothing, because they can still easily lose their job (and along with it any recommendation for any decent job in the future) because of a HIPAA violation. Federal prosecution (or the lack thereof) is pretty much meaningless for the average nurse.

    Your point that any given nurse is extremely unlikely to be federally prosecuted is true, but it's a purely intellectual argument. It's more or less meaningless in the context of day to day nursing practice and job security.
    No. What I said was quite clear: nurses cannot be punished by under the federal statute. They can, however, face ramifications under ancillary state laws and employer procedures for certain actions that might also fall under HIPAA. And I disagree with you that the point is a purely intellectual one. HIPAA violations carry the threat of federal jailtime and extensive civil monetary damages that might not be available under any of the other rules or statutes that apply to nurses. I can think of situations in which an employer might "remind" a nurse of federal prosecution and fines for a HIPAA violation in an attempt to get her to leave quietly and not file any kind of legitimate action against the employer. And I'm sure that many of the nurses here who think they might have violated HIPAA are worried about all of the potential consequences including, oh I don't know, federal jailtime. Finally, even if the post is "purely intellectual", it still serves to remedy the widespread misconception held in nursing that staff nurses are susceptible to statutory HIPAA penalties.
    GrnTea likes this.
  3. 0
    Alas, it took too long to get around to this clarification.
  4. 0
    I have a funny HIPPA story in a pathetic sort of way. A Nurse Ass. Manager I work for wrote me up for a HIPPA violation because I admitted a patient in a semi private room and the roommate heard parts of the interview....imagine? I believed her until I was assured it was not true.
  5. 0
    Kills me that the BON can punish a nurse for a HIPPA violation. How many nurses know that the questions the answer on their license application and renewal, like legal and medical issues, become public records? The BON is a state agency is not subject to HIPPA regs. Sucks, huh?
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    nursel56 and elkpark like this.
  7. 0
    Quote from dthfytr
    Kills me that the BON can punish a nurse for a HIPPA violation. How many nurses know that the questions the answer on their license application and renewal, like legal and medical issues, become public records? The BON is a state agency is not subject to HIPPA regs. Sucks, huh?
    No, it doesn't (suck), because state licensure is an entirely different matter. Individuals who choose to enter a licensed occupation/profession are voluntarily choosing to surrender some privacy rights. The whole point of licensure is that we agree to accept a higher level of accountability and responsibility to the general public.
  8. 0
    When I was taking my nurse pre-reqs I was admitted to the hospital for a medical emergency over the weekend. Long story short my information was released to my employer by a nurse in the hospital, his wife. She recognized my name in the admission although she did not personally care for me. On the Monday returning back to work, he approached me and told me his wife had told him I was a patient and disclosed my procedures, etc (he wanted to talk to me about them). I was extremely infuriated to say the least. I didn't know about HIPAA initially but knew that that had to be wrong to disclose patient information. I went to the hospital and talked to the HR department and the manager over the ED and they assured me they would file a report. I never heard anything back. A few months later I heard about HIPAA for the first time and then returned and told them I wanted to file a HIPAA complaint. The hospital told me six months had passed (I guess their is a statute of limitations?) and nothing would be done. I tried to get a lawyer but couldn't find one who specialized in this type of lawsuit or who wanted to go after the hospital. Personally, I think HIPAA is bullcrap. The patients have no recourse whatsoever. I think it is just a fear tactic to keep nurses in line. I know most of you will not agree with me but as a patient, I've seen otherwise.
  9. 1
    Quote from lkulmann
    I have a funny HIPPA story in a pathetic sort of way. A Nurse Ass. Manager I work for wrote me up for a HIPPA violation because I admitted a patient in a semi private room and the roommate heard parts of the interview....imagine? I believed her until I was assured it was not true.
    Am I the only one who wonders why nurses write each other up for doing something perceived to be wrong, but will not write each other down for doing something correctly?
    addiland likes this.
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    Quote from tacomaster
    I didn't know about HIPAA initially but knew that that had to be wrong to disclose patient information. I went to the hospital and talked to the HR department and the manager over the ED and they assured me they would file a report. I never heard anything back. A few months later I heard about HIPAA for the first time and then returned and told them I wanted to file a HIPAA complaint. The hospital told me six months had passed (I guess their is a statute of limitations?) and nothing would be done.

    It appears that there is a 180 day limit to file a complaint, but it is possible that it can be waived.
    If I believe that my privacy rights have been violated, when can I submit a complaint?


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