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Cell Phones and Privacy

Nurses   (1,402 Views 5 Comments)
by pat8585 pat8585 (Member) Member

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Was wondering if any ever thinks of the lack of security regarding patient privacy when doctors discuss patients' cases on a cell phone.

I was in a hospital recently and not only did a doctor use a cell phone (which I know is common and even necessary) and I heard the entire conversation. I was in the sitting area.

I will say I did NOT hear a patients name. But cell phones are NOT secure.

They can be picked up by other mobile phones and scanners.

What is your opinion on cell phones and privacy?

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6,487 Posts; 21,434 Profile Views

For someone to hear information they shouldn't hear, they would really have to be listening for it. Although the potential is there for a conversation to be picked up, I think it's unlikely to be overheard by anyone.

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sirI has 30 years experience as a MSN, APRN, NP and specializes in Education, FP, LNC, Forensics, ED, OB.

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Good question, pat8585,

Cell phone coversations and patient confidentiality are issues ever-present on the minds of HCP.

Dealing with confidentiality/privacy, HIPAA does not mention cell phones specifically; however, oral communications are covered. HCPs are sharing information for treatment, payment and healthcare operations (TPO), which is included in the HIPAA regulations.

HIPAA acknowledges "incidental disclosure", or information that is overheard. But, if one can hear information several feet away and/or in the next room, the cellular user needs to find a more secure location. Some entities are requiring their patients to provide written permission before the HCP may discuss their medical issues via cell phone.

There are even HIPAA-compliant cell phones on the market.;)

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CraigB-RN has 40 years experience as a MSN, RN and specializes in Critical Care, Emergency, Education, Informatics.

1,224 Posts; 19,051 Profile Views

Was wondering if any ever thinks of the lack of security regarding patient privacy when doctors discuss patients' cases on a cell phone.

I was in a hospital recently and not only did a doctor use a cell phone (which I know is common and even necessary) and I heard the entire conversation. I was in the sitting area.

I will say I did NOT hear a patients name. But cell phones are NOT secure.

They can be picked up by other mobile phones and scanners.

What is your opinion on cell phones and privacy?

The newer digatal phones are much more secure. The area of risk is cordless phones in peoples homes. Those can be listened to with scanners. The scanner you have to use to listen to modern cell phones is $$$$.

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I've been in a doctors exam room, he answers his cell, and I heard every part of the conversation regarding the patient they were talking about. (both the caller and the doc I could hear)

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