R.N.s report private information to abusive family members - page 2

by Saiderap 3,411 Views | 23 Comments

In a true-to-life case scenario, an abusive relative calls the hospital and asks for information about a helpless patient who they have committed crimes against. Why does every nursing staff not have any plan to avoid this? ... Read More


  1. 0
    Quote from MunoRN
    If by "helpless patient" you mean unconscious then yes, information is shared with the next of kin which is often the spouse. We're actually required to share all pertinent information for medical decision making in that situation. Hospitals don't typically have access to, or routinely investigate the criminal histories of family members. If there were information available to suggest that the spouse should not be next of kin then steps can be taken move to an alternate next of kin.
    A helpless patient could be someone with a mental breakdown, early dementia or who can't walk. I was referring to any and all possible definitions. If they even tell the staff once that a relative is not to be trusted, this should not be treated lightly.
  2. 1
    Quote from Saiderap
    This is shocking because anyone who snoops in a patient's business or goes rooting through their belongings might know their social security number. Also, parents are the first people to have access to this even if they have committed felonies against them and are a threat to their welfare,
    With all due respect, we don't know if anything is necessarily true or not. When one is speaking of committing felonies, and threats to patient's welfare, then you need to get other disciplines involved. Including law enforcement if appropriate. Anyone who is truly a threat to a patient's welfare, they have no business being in the room with the patient to root and snoop.

    Accusing someone of these crimes is serious business. So be sure that you have assessed, concluded, followed policy, and have your charge or even manager well apprised. The MD well apprised. Just be sure that ALL of your "T's" are crossed, and your "I's" dotted, to protect you as well as the patient.
    Meriwhen likes this.
  3. 1
    Quote from Saiderap
    In a true-to-life case scenario, an abusive relative calls the hospital and asks for information about a helpless patient who they have committed crimes against. Why does every nursing staff not have any plan to avoid this?
    If a patient has been the victim of a felony and it was an immediate relative who committed crimes against them then why should nurses ever by permitted by law to share private information with them? I am a witness to them doing this.
    Sharing private information with relatives who are physically and mentally abusive should never have been legally permitted even prior to H.I.P.A.A. or at any time in history and yet some nurses only care about what is legal for them.

    If a patient is in a hospital and they do not want their relative who abuses them to know they are even in there and this relative is also known to gossip with every neighbor in town, the staff can still share their private information, "because they are an immediate relative."

    I would assume that H.I.P.A.A. might have helped to change some of this but it should never have been legal.
    "Is there any family member you do not want us to share information with?" Why hasn't every single nurse been required to find out about this from their patients?
    It's the other way around. The patient gets to say who MAY receive PHI (if anyone) and nobody else gets it. Period.
    BrnEyedGirl likes this.
  4. 1
    Quote from Saiderap
    In a true-to-life case scenario, an abusive relative calls the hospital and asks for information about a helpless patient who they have committed crimes against. Why does every nursing staff not have any plan to avoid this?
    If a patient has been the victim of a felony and it was an immediate relative who committed crimes against them then why should nurses ever by permitted by law to share private information with them? I am a witness to them doing this.
    Sharing private information with relatives who are physically and mentally abusive should never have been legally permitted even prior to H.I.P.A.A. or at any time in history and yet some nurses only care about what is legal for them.

    If a patient is in a hospital and they do not want their relative who abuses them to know they are even in there and this relative is also known to gossip with every neighbor in town, the staff can still share their private information, "because they are an immediate relative."

    I would assume that H.I.P.A.A. might have helped to change some of this but it should never have been legal.
    "Is there any family member you do not want us to share information with?" Why hasn't every single nurse been required to find out about this from their patients?
    I work in a trauma ICU. Many of our patients are unresponsive when admitted. I cannot ask the patient "Is there any family member you do not want us to share information with?" So what would you like me to do when the spouse or parents call, having just been informed by the police that their loved one has been in a horrible MVC? Would you seriously expect me to tell them that I can neither confirm or deny that their loved one is in the ICU?
    Meriwhen likes this.
  5. 0
    Quote from Laurie52
    I work in a trauma ICU. Many of our patients are unresponsive when admitted. I cannot ask the patient "Is there any family member you do not want us to share information with?" So what would you like me to do when the spouse or parents call, having just been informed by the police that their loved one has been in a horrible MVC? Would you seriously expect me to tell them that I can neither confirm or deny that their loved one is in the ICU?
    You must have a policy regarding this, however, no, I would not want to be the one to share or not to share any information.
  6. 2
    Quote from jadelpn
    You must have a policy regarding this, however, no, I would not want to be the one to share or not to share any information.
    It's state laws that determine this and describe how a decision maker is determined; usually it's parent of a minor, followed by legal POA, followed by spouse, etc.

    We're not only legally allowed to provide this person with info, we're legally required to provide this person with information.
    NRSKarenRN and Sun0408 like this.
  7. 1
    but over the 'phone, how do you know? and what proof do you require in person? Just because a person says they are spouse/parent, doesn't make it so.
    Quote from MunoRN
    It's state laws that determine this and describe how a decision maker is determined; usually it's parent of a minor, followed by legal POA, followed by spouse, etc.

    We're not only legally allowed to provide this person with info, we're legally required to provide this person with information.
    Armygirl7 likes this.
  8. 1
    There are key words such as "reasonable effort" and "emergency notifications", "concerted effort"...in the effort to notify next of kin. If the cases of abuse if it is clear we do not release information to the abuser.....regardless of their relation. Period. We didn't release that information to protect the patient before or after HIPAA.

    Facilities have very specific policies about these processes to protect the patient and the staff. Areas most affected are the emergency departments and critical care areas.

    While I am sure this occurs on occasion by accident or carelessness...it is NOT the norm.
    Sun0408 likes this.
  9. 0
    Quote from MunoRN
    It's state laws that determine this and describe how a decision maker is determined; usually it's parent of a minor, followed by legal POA, followed by spouse, etc.

    We're not only legally allowed to provide this person with info, we're legally required to provide this person with information.
    And I do not disagree, however, anyone could be on the phone.
  10. 1
    Yea, we don't give out any information with out the patients privacy code which can only be obtained from the patient
    Sun0408 likes this.


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