question about HIPAA

  1. 0
    I am a nursing student, and I recently had a professor say that pt stories (even without identifiable characteristics) that she tells us in class is confidential and would be a HIPAA violation if we repeated them outside of class because they were real patients. I thought I was fairly clear of what HIPAA said about privacy until she said that. Anyone care to elaborate?

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  2. 11 Comments...

  3. 0
    Quote from nursingst1234
    I am a nursing student, and I recently had a professor say that pt stories (even without identifiable characteristics) that she tells us in class is confidential and would be a HIPAA violation if we repeated them outside of class because they were real patients. I thought I was fairly clear of what HIPAA said about privacy until she said that. Anyone care to elaborate?
    It is my understanding the as long as the "story" doesn't include identifying information such as name, date of birth, SSN, hospital name, dates of stay, etc (anything that could link the story to that particular individual) then it would be considered de-identified and therefore not a HIPAA violation. Here's a link to the government page that describes it:
    http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/privacy/hipaa...ary/index.html
    Hope that helps.
  4. 3
    She is wrong. She is trying to put the fear of god in you about patient confidentiality, which is fine, but she is wrong. It is disheartening to me to hear faculty telling students inaccurate boogey-man stories about HIPAA because when their students discover they're wrong they lose face and credibility in other ways. And the students may get the wrong idea about HIPAA and violate it later.

    You can access the sticky at the bottom of this HIPAA forum to get the definitive answers on this as given by the OCR (Office of Civil Rights), the government entity that is responsible for HIPAA.
    http://allnurses.com/hipaa-nursing-challenges/answer-hipaa-violation-693686.html

    That said, she may be trying to communicate that if you, a nursing student, tells tales out of school, as it were, it is remotely possible for someone to identify a patient via knowing your clinical placement and the dates you were there, depending on how unusual the case presentation is; it is also possible that the reputation of your school would suffer if someone thought you were telling tales out of school even without identifying info. Good habit to get into NOT to mention these things, certainly, but still not a HIPAA violation.
    KelRN215, Esme12, and pmabraham like this.
  5. 0
    There are some iffy areas. Suppose I talk about a child who sustained a head injury and was now vented. If we were in my small hometown, everyone would know who I was talking about. If I were in New York City, it's more likely nobody would be able to identify the patient just based on the diagnosis.

    In either case it's wise not to tell patient tales outside of the health care arena or without a good reason such as teaching. Doing so makes us look like gossips and shines poorly on the profession. I had a friend of my wife who requested me as her nurse because she trusted that I would keep her care confidential. Her trust was well founded and that's all I'll say about that.
  6. 0
    Quote from nursingst1234
    I am a nursing student, and I recently had a professor say that pt stories (even without identifiable characteristics) that she tells us in class is confidential and would be a HIPAA violation if we repeated them outside of class because they were real patients.
    At my nursing school, we had an instructor tell us that. That was her given rationale for why she would not allow students to tape her lectures. According to her, if we let someone else hear the tape, then it would be a violation. "It's HIPAA plain and simple," she said. On a side note, I just think she didn't want students to tape her lectures because the were really bad and she did want her "bad" lectures getting around...she was really good as a clinical instructor though.

    Here's the thing. If your repeating the stories would be a HIPAA violation, then she would be 'committing' a HIPAA violation by telling you the story in the first place.
  7. 0
    Just make sure that you don't go out in public and yell your story when you're sitting at the bar...if you want to tell a story, I'd wait til you're in private.
  8. 0
    Quote from psu_213
    At my nursing school, we had an instructor tell us that. That was her given rationale for why she would not allow students to tape her lectures. According to her, if we let someone else hear the tape, then it would be a violation. "It's HIPAA plain and simple," she said. On a side note, I just think she didn't want students to tape her lectures because the were really bad and she did want her "bad" lectures getting around...she was really good as a clinical instructor though.

    Here's the thing. If your repeating the stories would be a HIPAA violation, then she would be 'committing' a HIPAA violation by telling you the story in the first place.
    Education of health care professionals is an exception under HIPAA. She can tell all the stories she wants, give real-life examples, and it is not a violation, as long as she does it in a classroom, clinical setting.

    That is why she said it was ok for her to tell you (the students) but it's not ok for you to repeat the same stories or other things at work.
  9. 1
    Quote from psu_213
    At my nursing school, we had an instructor tell us that. That was her given rationale for why she would not allow students to tape her lectures. According to her, if we let someone else hear the tape, then it would be a violation. "It's HIPAA plain and simple," she said. On a side note, I just think she didn't want students to tape her lectures because the were really bad and she did want her "bad" lectures getting around...she was really good as a clinical instructor though.

    Here's the thing. If your repeating the stories would be a HIPAA violation, then she would be 'committing' a HIPAA violation by telling you the story in the first place.

    Not necessarily. Information may be shared in an educational context with as little private identifying information as possible. However, what's appropriate to share in an educational context may not be appropriate to share outside of the classroom/clinical conference/M&M conference, etc.
    elkpark likes this.
  10. 0
    Quote from lucy2811
    It is my understanding the as long as the "story" doesn't include identifying information such as name, date of birth, SSN, hospital name, dates of stay, etc (anything that could link the story to that particular individual) then it would be considered de-identified and therefore not a HIPAA violation. Here's a link to the government page that describes it:
    Summary of the HIPAA Privacy Rule
    Hope that helps.
    It's a little more complicated than that. Your own reference states that protected information is any information "that identifies the individual or for which there is a reasonable basis to believe it can be used to identify the individual." So, as azhiker noted, you could talk in public about a case without giving any name, dates, or numbers, but, because of a specific diagnosis/injury, sequence of events leading to the hospitalization/injury, color of the person's hair, whatever, it could still be entirely possible that someone who knows the individual (but is not authorized to receive any information) could figure out who you are talking about. (Esp. in small towns ... )

    This is why it's much safer and better practice to just get in the habit of not talking about work (or school) outside of work (or school). Any time there are other people around, you just don't know who may be listening and be able to identify who you're talking about.
  11. 0
    Quote from azhiker96
    There are some iffy areas. Suppose I talk about a child who sustained a head injury and was now vented. If we were in my small hometown, everyone would know who I was talking about. If I were in New York City, it's more likely nobody would be able to identify the patient just based on the diagnosis.

    In either case it's wise not to tell patient tales outside of the health care arena or without a good reason such as teaching. Doing so makes us look like gossips and shines poorly on the profession. I had a friend of my wife who requested me as her nurse because she trusted that I would keep her care confidential. Her trust was well founded and that's all I'll say about that.
    Absolutely! Thanks for the post.


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