fellow classmates and HIPAA


It started today during clinicals. I pulled out my iPhone to check something on my Taber's App and noticed I had a new message from my friend that was doing rotations on the floor beneath me. The message read: "so-and-so took papers out of her patient's chart last week and took them home for the weekend... she just pulled them out of her notebook and asked me what she should do with them- what do I tell her?"


Of course I told her to immediately report it to her clinical professor because it wasn't like she didn't know that it violated HIPAA. Then I was a bit upset that my friend even asked me because I felt like I was dragged into something that I don't want to have anything to do with!!! When it comes to anything HIPAA-related I just keep my mouth shut because to me that's the best way (although I know we discuss clinical observations in class during post-conference), but after I got that message I told my clinical professor (we have several different ones) because I didn't want to be accused of knowing that someone violated HIPAA rules and not reporting it-- my clinical professor told me that violating HIPAA was an immediate removal from our nursing program and that I may need to forward her the message so she can review it with our school's nursing board.

So not only did I not want to be involved with any of this, but now I'm scared that I'll be known as the snitch! How can I tell my friend, without hurting her feelings, that I don't want to be involved in any gossip that could threaten my path to a nursing career? I just feel awful that I told my professor but I didn't want to get in trouble either :( any advice on what to do if I ever come across a situation like this again?

Specializes in Medical Surgical/Addiction/Mental Health.

Your friend text you to see what you would do, right? So, if your friend becomes upset with you, then she should not have asked your opinion in the first place. I would give her a heads up of what’s going on so that she is prepared to give her statement if it comes to that. The last thing you want to have happen is your friend being called into a meeting ill prepared. You’re not a snitch. You are performing the duties of a nurse, which includes maintaining confidentiality. In fact, there was an entire chapter on confidentiality in our Fundamentals Book. Perhaps the girl skipped that chapter. If others are not able to accept what you did, then perhaps they should reconsider a career in nursing. We are there to be the patient’s advocate, not condone serious errors that other nursing students make.


15 Posts

Just talk to your friend and say "If something happens like this next time...dont include me"