Clinical Instructor

Nurses General Nursing

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Clinical Instructor

I just need some advice regarding my daughter, who is currently in nursing school.  She was at her clinical rotation when she received a finger stick injury.  Her nurse had her wash her hands and then it was reported to the charge on the floor.  My daughter then messaged her instructor to let her know about the incident.  When the instructor got to the floor she became extremely upset and started slamming things down yelling at my daughter stating she should've contacted her immediately.  She was extremely rude, so much so, the charge and her nurse stated she was behaving very unprofessionally.  My daughter was so upset she went to the bathroom and just cried as she was utterly humiliated in front of so many individuals.

At post conference, all the students were talking about their day, when her instructor suddenly turned to my daughter and told all her fellow students that she had received a finger stick injury.  The instructor then got up and said conference was over and excused the class.  Once again, she felt utterly humiliated.  I am so angry I don't know what to do.  My daughter said she would email her instructor tomorrow to talk to her about what happened.

What I would like to know is if this instructor violated HIPAA by telling the class what happened and the various labs she had drawn.  I also think the dean should be made aware of the instructors unprofessional behavior as this makes her teaching institution look really bad.  I am trying to stay out of this and allow my daughter to handle it, I'm just looking for a little guidance.

P.S. The nurse who was working with my daughter gave her her phone number just in case she needed someone to collaborate her story.

Specializes in OB-Gyn/Primary Care/Ambulatory Leadership.

1 - No, she did not violate HIPAA. It was actually a really good learning opportunity for all the students to discuss what the process is when a healthcare worker gets a needle stick injury. 

2 - Let her fight her own battles. With all due respect as a mother of young adults, you're not doing a very good job of staying out of it.

Specializes in Critical Care.

Please, stay out of it. 

Let your daughter handle it. 

That was a terrible way for the instructor to behave. I'm sure your daughter was scared just about getting stuck and could have used support, not criticism.

People think everything has to do with HIPAA. It doesn't. Just let that go.

This is just my opinion but aside from reviewing the needlestick itself to see if there is something she could do differently next time, the very next best people lesson and life lesson to learn here is that there is no reason to get involved if people are going to make themselves look foolish and inappropriate. Why jump into that fray by running around collecting witnesses and grasping at straws to try to get them in more trouble? That just brings you down and takes your focus away from what is important in life. Those people are obvious for what they are, and they usually don't succeed over time. They are quite often miserable, too. I fail to understand why so many people want to get in on the misery. MOVE ON.

Your daughter has a LOT to learn (I don't mean that in a chastising way; I'm talking about the volume of information in nursing school). She would be very well served to re-process the situation and not focus on the humiliation but the fact that this response from the instructor was inappropriate--but also insignificant in that the behavior has nothing to do with [your daughter]. It is NOT worth spending the semester going to war. As her parent you can help her focus on anger and humiliation and revenge or you can help her realize that we have to learn to ignore stupid noise like this, otherwise life is too miserable for words.

She should ask to speak with the instructor and calmly/kindly say something like, "I just wanted to reassure you that I messaged you as soon as I had washed my hands. It was a very scary experience. I've spent some time processing it so I can move forward and have a good clinical this semester."

Specializes in Dialysis.

Your daughter is in nursing school, thus she is an adult. Realistically, the school/hospital/professor cannot discuss with you, as it is a privacy issue from that standpoint. 

It's been stated that it wasn't HIPAA, but a great learning tool, which is the correct way to look at this. Allow your daughter to deal with this, as she's going to have to with many other situations in the adult world going forward

Specializes in Occupational Health.

1. It was NOT a HIPAA violation. It should have been a learning experience but is sounds like it was handled poorly.

2. The interaction with the instructor sounds unprofessional. However, you weren't there so your information is second-hand at best. If your daughter decides to pursue the issue further that should be her decision as an adult after considering all options...not yours.

Thanks for the info.  Btw, I am staying out of it, I was simply asking for guidance as to how she could handle the situation as I know I cannot be impartial.  Also, my daughter was not gathering phone numbers whatsoever, they were offered to her.  

Specializes in Vents, Telemetry, Home Care, Home infusion.

Tell your daughter to become an allnurses member so she can get guidance from experienced real world nurses and support. Our Student Forum full of advice how to survive and thrive in her nursing program,  grow in nursing knowledge, including nursing exit exams and NCLEX licensure exam.

We like to help grow our next generation nurses!

I agree that the interaction was very unprofessional, but your daughter has to fight her own battles. Sadly, in the nursing profession she will encounter this behavior everywhere she goes. She needs to thicken her skin and develop grit. The time to get out is now if she doesn't want to work in this type of culture. I'm not making excuses. Nurses have eaten their young since the beginning of the profession. 

"I also think the dean should be made aware of the instructors unprofessional behavior as this makes her teaching institution look really bad". In nursing school, the dean NEVER backs the student, only the instructor. I'm sure it's not the first time this has occurred with this particular instructor and there is a dire worldwide shortage of nursing instructors.

Specializes in Geriatrics.

As a clinical instructor I would never conduct myself in this manner.

As a student, I would never put up with this type of reaction. 
I hear a whole lot of should haves and would haves, but at the end of the day, what matters is not the stick itself but if she contracted any illness from this unfortunate event. 
Health care can be cut-throat, as evidenced by the scores of comments you've received by this post. The actual working climate isn't much better. I chose to nurse because I love the patients. I hope your daughter comes through this event with a resolve to stand up for herself. 

vintagegal, BSN, RN

Thank you so much for your response, and I agree, responses were pretty cut-throat.  I think nurses sometimes forget just how difficult nursing school can be. 

My daughter did actually stand up for herself and emailed the professor with her concerns.  I was very proud of her, and her professor apologized for her actions.  

Of note, per occupational health, when there is an injury at their facility, they become a patient and HIPAA rules do apply.  They stated information should only be given on a need to know basis. 

Again, thank you for your kind response.

Dili said:

Of note, per occupational health, when there is an injury at their facility, they become a patient and HIPAA rules do apply.  They stated information should only be given on a need to know basis. 

Yes. This is not new information that you discovered. The hospital is indeed a HIPAA covered entity. Your HIPAA-related question clearly is not that straightforward as it doesn't involve the hospital at all. It involved a disclosure by individual who was not a hospital employee and may or may not even be considered a business associate for the purposes of HIPAA and/or who may be bound by privacy/confidentiality laws of a completely different industry (education). We can all agree that this was handled poorly from start to finish including privacy and confidentiality aspects, but you asked a very specific question about HIPAA.

Dili said:

I think nurses sometimes forget just how difficult nursing school can be. 

Maybe some do. Plenty do not.

But maybe some of us just disagree with your general tone and approach here. We're allowed to do that.

Dili said:

My daughter did actually stand up for herself and emailed the professor with her concerns.  I was very proud of her, and her professor apologized for her actions.  

It is great that they came to an understanding and that your daughter successfully readdressed the issue.

Of course, if you would have come here asking whether she should try to do that or not, the responses might have been slightly different than what you garnered from your original post which involved mention of witnesses, HIPAA and going to the Dean.

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