HIPAA violation???

  1. 0
    I had a patient who said he didn't want visitors....and no, it wasn't right, but this family and patient was a very difficult one and they wore me down over the three days I had him. So, at the end of my three day stretch, he got mad, said he didn't want any visitors. It was Christmas Eve, I let his family walk back to give him a stocking. And he said (rightfully so) that he felt like I violated his rights. I felt so bad right then, my judgment was clouded. And I know it wasn't right. I would and will never do it again.
    But now it has gotten take to HR, by a fellow employee and my manager, as a HIPAA violation and that could be grounds for termination. Does this seems like a HIPAA violation? I didn't share any info. I read our policy, and they leave room for interpretation, probably for things like this.
    But any person I work with would be surprised that this is considered a HIPAA violation. It wasn't malicious, for personal gain or anything.
    So I am just wonder what other people think? I am not really wanting to ask anyone at work.
    The patient and his family DID NOT file a formal complaint, it was just something he said at the time. So that is in my favor. But I am so scared for my family, my job and my career/license. I am the sole bread winner. I'm afraid to let my husband and children down. And can't bear to tell my husband. He would be so disappointed.
    I already feel so bad. My manager said she would fight for me to keep my job. That i may just get a high level of corrective action. Which I can live with that. Just don't want to lose a job I love and a license I worked so hard for.
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  3. 4 Comments so far...

  4. 0
    Maybe the family slipped by you and visited without your knowledge. You were busy with other patients, weren't you? oou;re there for Hursing, not the referee.
  5. 1
    Wait so the family had visited for the first two days and then he did not want to see them on the third day? Seems to me that they knew where he was and his room so how were you to magically HIPAA them on the third day?
    MMaeLPN likes this.
  6. 2
    Did his family not know he was there? If they knew he was in your hospital, on your floor in that room without your telling them and you gave out no medical or financial information then I don't see how it is a HIPAA violation. I am not sure how your visiting policy is written so I couldn't say if some other hospital rules were violated but as far as HIPAA... no, don't think so.
    macfar28 and Meriwhen like this.
  7. 0
    If you work in a psych facility and you intentionally disregarded the patient's wishes regarding visitors...yeah, that was a big mistake. Psych facilities are very sensitive to patients' privacy and wishes regarding visitors. The rules are often far stricter than that of your average medical hospital, and they don't make allowances for "it's Christmas/holidays/family." If they patient says No Visitors, the answer is No Visitors, even if God shows up at the door. I'm not sure how the policies run on a psych unit in a medical facility, but I imagine they are also probably a little tighter than just your average M/S floor.

    Also, a HIPAA violation doesn't have to be only for personal/malicious gain to qualify as a HIPAA violation. A lot of HIPAA violations are done out of ignorance or innocence.

    I'll admit it is hard to deal with family members at times, especially around the holidays...so while I'm not saying it was an excuse, I can see how and why this happened and I'm not unsympathetic. I'm sorry you are dealing with this.

    Hopefully nothing will come of this and no complaint will be filed. To help those chances, I'd do your darndest to ensure that you comply with whatever wishes this patient has for his privacy for the rest of his stay (because keep in mind he can always file one later). And don't grovel over it either--if you haven't already done so, make a sincere apology to him, but then let the topic go.

    I would work with your manager to do whatever it takes to keep your job. But honestly, if they start throwing out that you did violate HIPAA, I'd call your malpractice insurance and arrange for a lawyer to protect yourself. If it happened as you said, I don't think this was HIPAA-violation worthy.

    Best of luck.


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