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Freaking out that I violated HIPAA?!

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by Elven_RN Elven_RN, ASN (Member)

1,372 Visitors; 32 Posts

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I just realized tonight that I by accidentally had some identifiable information that I took home with me from a clinical site and I had it for awhile. Of course, no one saw it but me, and I destroyed it immediately, but I'm freaking out that I committed a crime!

How does HIPAA work? Do I have to turn myself in if I made this mistake or is it only if you're "caught" so to speak that you're in trouble?

Ugh, I could use some advice. This has been my nightmare of mine since the beginning of nursing school, and I feel like it's following me!

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direw0lf has <1 years experience as a BSN.

10,606 Visitors; 1,039 Posts

Ok calm down! You're going to have a lot of these moments, not necessarily HIPAA related, where you are at home and realize oops forgot something important. Forgot to tell the night nurse something. Forgot to do something you were asked. Left something at the hospital. Took something home, oops glucometer strips in my pocket. You did not really violate HIPAA since you destroyed the pt identifiers without sharing it.

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2,498 Visitors; 183 Posts

Accidentally taking home patient information is not a violation of HIPAA. Although it might technically be against hospital policy, it is not a "crime."

HIPAA is to protect the unauthorized DISCLOSURE of patient information. Since no information was disclosed, there is no violation. You are fine.

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C0SM0 has 1 years experience.

1,686 Visitors; 102 Posts

Lol, I did that all the time during clinicals. I'd just bring the documents to school with me the next day and put it in the shred bin. No big deal.

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9 Followers; 23,242 Visitors; 3,098 Posts

I just realized tonight that I by accidentally had some identifiable information that I took home with me from a clinical site and I had it for awhile. Of course, no one saw it but me, and I destroyed it immediately, but I'm freaking out that I committed a crime!

How does HIPAA work? Do I have to turn myself in if I made this mistake or is it only if you're "caught" so to speak that you're in trouble?

Ugh, I could use some advice. This has been my nightmare of mine since the beginning of nursing school, and I feel like it's following me!

Oh holy cow no, do not turn yourself in.

Your school likely has an agreement with the facility that no information will be removed, so either one of them knowing about this might go badly because they like to make examples of these types of slips. It would be good for you to go through your things carefully at the end of a hospital day to avoid worse situations (papers found in parking garage, etc) where someone could actually try to trace it back and make trouble. Other than that I agree with the above - you didn't diclose any information.

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Wannabenurseneko has 1 years experience.

4,771 Visitors; 247 Posts

You do not need to turn yourself in you did not violate HIPAA, since you got rid of the information;

Breath a sigh of relief.

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