I am a nursing student and have been in my program 6 months. Over the weekend, a good friend of mine was in a car accident and in the ICU. I went to visit him, and he was telling me what happened but he wasn't sure what exactly had happened and what was all fractured. Of course me being a student I was so thrilled to be in the ICU and was trying to apply what I know so far to what I was seeing go on in his room. Today at clinical at the same hospital, I figured I'd stop by and see him, but then I was thinking maybe he would be moved to a regular med surg unit by now. Without even thinking, I clicked on his unit in ICU and checked to see if any new notes were added and his vitals for today to see howhe was doing. Simultaneously, it suddenly dawned on me this was a HIPAA violation, and I quickly signed out, realizing what I'd done. We have had very little info about what specifically constitutes a violation, but I obviously knew enough to know about a minute in to realize I had made a huge error in judgment. I haven't been able to eat or calm myself down I am beyond petrified this will be found out and I'll be kicked out of my program. I can't say I accessed it unintentionally because that is a lie, but I just wasn't thinking about it as being a violation. I'm embarrassed and ashamed and scared most of all. Can anyone tell me if this is likely to cause me to be thrown out of school?
Jul 17, '12
by Meriwhen, ASN, BSN, RN Senior Moderator
Yes, you did violate HIPAA. People HAVE been fired/dismissed for browsing in friends/family members charts.
Fortunately, you had the sense to stop yourself.
Given you immediately realized it was a mistake, I agree with caliotter: probably not much good would come from telling your instructor. And while it's not likely that it'd ever come up in an audit, should it come up, I agree with you: do not intentionally lie. Should it come up, seek a lawyer's advice ASAP.
Last edit by Meriwhen on Jul 17, '12