Being forced to give corporate access to my medical records?!

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Specializes in CCU, CRRT. Has 7 years experience.

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Hey everyone,

So I've been floating between my main unit in CCU/CVICU and our covid ICU with no issues since the pandemic hit last Feb.  Last month my heartrate started going erratic and turns out I was in thyroid storm (history of thyroid CA s/p thyroidectomy on Synthroid now).  I remember showing up to work one day and the moment I got to the nurses station I started feeling palpitations and had to sit down.. I hooked myself up to the zoll with my charge nurse to find me taching in the 180's - I ended up going to the ED and getting IV labetalol.  My endocrinologist does not want to lower my Synthroid dosage even though my last TSH is 0.06 due to high chance of cancer reoccurrence - so now I'm seeing a cardiologist and ended up being started on labetalol which has controlled my heart rate.

Around the same time, my charge nurse started refusing to float me to our covid unit, stating that due to my health she didn't want me to be exposed to it (our covid unit is still a lockdown unit where you get a single 30 minute break and wear the same PPE/gloves locked in the unit for the whole 12 hours straight... most people like myself bring our own N95's and envo masks as the hospital still only provides a single N95 per 2 weeks and 60+hours on a single n95 just doesn't cut it for me).  When my charge stopped floating me to covid, she came up to me and asked me to get a doctors note from my PCP to justify her decision to not float me to covid anymore.  I talked to my director about this and she is also in agreement that due to my health I shouldn't be floated to covid - so I went to my PCP and got a Dr's note.  Fast forward a few weeks and now corporate is calling me and stating that due to how many people have Dr. notes excusing them from working on the covid unit, they have a form that needs to be filled out by the physician.  The form is an ADA disability paperwork that is written in a way that makes it sound like I am incompetent.  There's 17 questions, extremely repetitive, and all involve the doctor explaining why I need 'modifications to my daily routine at the hospital to allow me to perform my core functions as a nurse'.  They also require a waiver to be signed that allows corporate full access to my medical records and to discuss my treatment with my doctors.

I called corporate to clarify the paperwork as I do not have a disability and I am not immunosuppressed; I have a history of thyroid cancer that has been treated and no longer an issue minus a little flareup that has now been taken care of.  Its not my decision to not float to covid-ICU and I have no issues floating to work there.

Corporates response to my inquiry was "yes, you do have a disability as you can potentially get sick if you get covid due to your history with cancer, so have your doctor fill out the ADA paperwork as if you have a disability, and your disability is your cancer history".  I feel like this paperwork will bite me in the butt in the future and am against signing a form that states I have a disability that inhibits me from performing my functions as a nurse and giving my medical records and access to future records to my employers when I am fully capable of performing the functions of my job and only 32yrs old.  The form is due back to them today, still trying to figure out what or even if I should write to corporate.  I feel like this is a complete violation of my personal privacy.

OyWithThePoodles, RN

Specializes in Med-surg, school nursing.. Has 10 years experience. 1,336 Posts

I just wouldn't sign it and tell them to float you. Get your doctor to sign off on you being medically able to float, they can't force you to have a disability if your doctor says you don't.

Emergent, RN

Specializes in ER. Has 29 years experience. 2 Articles; 3,860 Posts

This is a fascinating story. On the one hand, I applaud your employer for trying to protect vulnerable people. On the other hand, you are not seeking an excuse from being in the covid unit, yet they are demanding full access to your medical records. I will be fascinated to find out the outcome of this.

Daisy4RN

Specializes in Travel, Home Health, Med-Surg. Has 20 years experience. 1 Article; 2,032 Posts

Sounds to me like too many people have been using flimsy excuses to not work covid so now the "disability" paperwork to weed out those without a true disability. I would also be concerned about turning in that paperwork with your med record even with a valid reason. If you do I would make sure it clearly states the reason why you cannot work the covid unit and nothing else. I cannot imagine why they need your entire medical record. As the PP said maybe you can just forget the whole thing and go back to working the covid unit, your MD would probably OK it now that your condition has stabilized. Good luck!

Emergent, RN

Specializes in ER. Has 29 years experience. 2 Articles; 3,860 Posts

The risk is that then facilities will quietly weed out less healthy staff during times of an abundance of workers. Right now, of course, they can make it appear altruistic. But when the tables turn and the nursing shortage goes away, facilities have a tendency to find ways to eliminate jobs of senior nurses who get paid more. Of course, there is a side of benefit of lowering their insurance costs if they get rid of unhealthy people.

Orca, ASN, RN

Specializes in Corrections, psychiatry, rehab, LTC. Has 27 years experience. 2,050 Posts

1 hour ago, Daisy4RN said:

Sounds to me like too many people have been using flimsy excuses to not work covid so now the "disability" paperwork to weed out those without a true disability. 

Bingo.

IRN2011, ASN, BSN

Specializes in CCU, CRRT. Has 7 years experience. 15 Posts

1 hour ago, Daisy4RN said:

Sounds to me like too many people have been using flimsy excuses to not work covid so now the "disability" paperwork to weed out those without a true disability.

Completely agree.. and to be honest I don't mind if those seeking to be exempt from taking care of covid patients all together be screened for a valid reason as to why.. since if we are wearing proper PPE we should be well protected.  The issue I have is not the fact that I'm taking care of covid patients.. I've been doing that with no complaints for the past year.  My issue is that my director and higher ups are telling me they are trying to protect vulnerable populations and have decided for me that they will not send me to covid units anymore to protect me even if its not a choice I made for myself.. and than are requiring me to give them access to my medical records to justify their decision... all because I have had the mishap of being diagnosed and treated for cancer 10+ years ago when I was in my 20's... If they need my pathology proving my cancer, I have no issues giving that to them.. but what I object to is the filing out of a disability form stating that I need modifications to do the core functions of my job and access to all my medical records while I'm employed by this corporation because I was treated for cancer more than 5 years prior to working for them and it has not once stopped me from performing any functions of my job.

Daisy4RN

Specializes in Travel, Home Health, Med-Surg. Has 20 years experience. 1 Article; 2,032 Posts

17 minutes ago, IRN2011 said:

Completely agree.. and to be honest I don't mind if those seeking to be exempt from taking care of covid patients all together be screened for a valid reason as to why.. since if we are wearing proper PPE we should be well protected.  The issue I have is not the fact that I'm taking care of covid patients.. I've been doing that with no complaints for the past year.  My issue is that my director and higher ups are telling me they are trying to protect vulnerable populations and have decided for me that they will not send me to covid units anymore to protect me even if its not a choice I made for myself.. and than are requiring me to give them access to my medical records to justify their decision... all because I have had the mishap of being diagnosed and treated for cancer 10+ years ago when I was in my 20's... If they need my pathology proving my cancer, I have no issues giving that to them.. but what I object to is the filing out of a disability form stating that I need modifications to do the core functions of my job and access to all my medical records while I'm employed by this corporation because I was treated for cancer more than 5 years prior to working for them and it has not once stopped me from performing any functions of my job.

I would not necessarily believe what admin/corporate is telling you. I agree with you and am sorry that you got caught up in this dragnet. I would not be happy about turning over my personal medical records to corporate. Do you have a union, or checked with labor agencies to be sure that they can even legally do this, worth a try. I have an autoimmune dx and was on intermittent FMLA and never had to turn over my medical records, just the FMLA paperwork signed (and filled out) by the MD re: the disibility/reason. Seems over the top to request personal medical records vs MD notes etc.

JKL33

6,080 Posts

41 minutes ago, IRN2011 said:

My issue is that my director and higher ups are telling me they are trying to protect vulnerable populations and have decided for me that they will not send me to covid units anymore to protect me even if its not a choice I made for myself.. and than are requiring me to give them access to my medical records to justify their decision...

Just tell them you appreciate their efforts but are not in need of any accommodations at this time. If they wish to have unit-specific practices or managerial preferences that involve you not floating to Covid for now, that is their business. I would decline to fill out disability paperwork or give them access to records.

MunoRN, RN

Specializes in Critical Care. Has 10 years experience. 7,756 Posts

First, you don't appear to have a condition that qualifies as a disability under the ADA, so it's odd they are asking you to claim you meet the definition of disabled, they are essentially asking you to submit a false claim of disability.  Under the ADA, a disability is a physical or mental condition that significantly limits one or more major life activity.  

If you did have qualifying disability under the ADA, they can't actually ask for all of your medical records, only those that the support the disability claim.

It very well could be that your management / administrators are just incompetent, but they may also be cunning.  If you were to submit paperwork that states you have a medical condition that prevents you from performing an essential job function then they are free and clear to terminate you.  

caliotter3

38,332 Posts

I would resign before turning over the medical records and before or after I consulted with an attorney. 

JadedCPN, BSN, RN

Specializes in Pediatrics, Pediatric Float, PICU, NICU. Has 16 years experience. 1,476 Posts

From what I’m gathering, it sounds like you didn’t object when the charge and manager said you shouldn’t float even though it wasn’t your idea. The objection came once there was this ridiculous paperwork that came along with it. So if I’m understanding that correctly, I guess my simple question is have you told them directly that you don’t object to being floated and don’t want to be kept from it?