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Case Study: HIPAA violation or not?

HIPAA   (2,423 Views | 15 Replies)
by Allmy? Allmy? (New) New

Allmy? has 1 years experience .

306 Profile Views; 2 Posts

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Katillac has 18 years experience as a RN.

341 Posts; 7,521 Profile Views

It looks like photos of wounds aren't PHI because the wounds themselves aren't permanent, so they aren't considered identifiers. So no HIPAA violation, but if taken without consent and disclosure how the photo will be used is against my personal and professional ethics.

From https://www.novarad.net/hipaa-and-your-patient-photography/

"What makes a photo PHI?

Not all patient photos contain PHI but are identified as health information. A patient photo is considered to contain PHI if it has any of the following patient identifiers:

Any portion of the face


Name or Initials

Birth Date

Social Security


Date of service

Medical Record Number

For patient photos containing PHI, HIPAA does not require a patient release if used in your health care operations (training, teaching, etc.). But photographs used in external settings (conferences, seminars, etc.) Cannot be used without patient consent. Patient photos that do not contain any identifiers, do not require approval."

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/username is a BSN, RN and specializes in Critical Care.

504 Posts; 9,219 Profile Views

Definitely not a HIPAA violation, however, it is likely in violation of school's and/or hospital's privacy policy. 


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cayenne06 has 10 years experience as a MSN, CNM and specializes in Reproductive & Public Health.

1,394 Posts; 18,481 Profile Views

The problem here is not the photo per se. It is how the photo was obtained- by a student, on a personal cell phone. 

This is just wrong, HIPAA or not. As a student, you don't take pictures of people who are vulnerable and reliant on you for care. 100% never okay. Even if it is interesting and you want to show your classmates.

Just asking the patient if you can take a photo is crossing the line. You have no right to make that request, and the patient could easily feel pressured to consent. 

If her providers deemed a picture was necessary (for medical or learning purposes) and the patient was appropriately consented, It would be reasonable for a student to request a copy for their own education.

And, you especially do not take that pic on your UNSECURED PERSONAL PHONE! I mean whaaat. i just cant even. I just can't even. 

Serious lack of judgment here. 

Edited by cayenne06

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traumaRUs has 27 years experience as a MSN, APRN, CNS and specializes in Nephrology, Cardiology, ER, ICU.

165 Articles; 21,045 Posts; 192,980 Profile Views

Moved to HIPAA challenges

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