If a family member calls on your pt, do you give them info?

  1. I am a RN in a 25 bed hospital and if a family memebr calls, we are allowed to give out information (pretty much anything they ask) as long as the family member gives the ok. My dad is in a hospital out of state and I called and talked to him. He doesnt know any of his lab work, what meds he is on, etc. So I got his nurse on the phone and said "I'm so and so's daughter and I wanted to know how he is doing". She says "He is stable. If you want I can send you down to his room". I say "I just talked to him. I am a nurse and wanted to know a little bit about how he is doing". She says "I cant give out any information on him unless he signs a release".
    I was just curious. He doesnt have any problem signing a release, but in our hospital as long as you can verify the caller is family (they know DOB, Mother's Maiden name, etc) and the pt gives permission, we give out info.
    Anyone else?
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    About TooterIA

    Joined: May '01; Posts: 195; Likes: 42
    RN in Critical Access hospital


  3. by   jill48
    I think she was just being lazy. Yes, as long as the patient (POA) gives permission, she should have talked to you and given you more information than just that tiny little bit she did.
  4. by   TazziRN
    She wasn't being lazy. Some facilities have very strict guidelines under which its staff can give out info. At our tertiary care facility the caller has to know the code number, which is made up of certain digits in the MR number. Once I called to get info on my dad and didn't know about this code. The nurse told me my dad has to give me the code and I have to recite it back to the nurse. No exceptions. I asked the nurse to get verbal permission from my dad and I would call back, but she said No, that the code number is the only way to do it.

    At our facility, if I get a call from a family member that was never there to visit and I can't give the phone to the pt, I will ask for some sort of identifier: birthday, middle name, whatever. If the relative is there and leaves and tells me she will call later, I tell her the question I will ask her on the phone to verify it is her.
  5. by   P_RN
    The main problem to me is how exactly does the nurse KNOW this IS a family member? I usually do like the nurse in this picture....and transfer the call to his room. When he signs the release the daughter can then be given information once she can prove she IS the daughter. Her best bet is to have the doctor give consented information to ONE person who can then relay to the rest of the family.

    I've personally blocked with my body TV crews who wanted to get pictures of an injured cop....yea sure he's your uncle. Insurance people also will say they are relatives.
  6. by   annmariern
    Yes, HIPAA has made it more complicated. My facilty also requires a code. I have explained this to a pt, verified their identity and asked the pt to give permission first. Once I had a dying pt whos daughter called; when I asked the next of kin, step mother, for permission she freaked. Hands legally tied. I felt bad for the daughter, but who knows whats going on there. Don't have time for family sagas.
  7. by   TigerGalLE
    It works the same at my facility. The family member has to have a code. The only way they can get a code is by going through "patient relations" A team that works directly with families and patients to ensure their hospital stay is pleasant. The patient has to say it is okay to give the family member the code. If the patient is not oriented... patient relations will have to prove they are family or prove they are the patient's power of attorney.. They then can have the code. They must give the code each time they call in order to get info.
  8. by   jo272wv
    The hospital were I work will not give out or will not permit nurses to give out any information over the phone unless the paitent put that said person on a give information to list that is placed in the chart. We generally give each person a code name or number. This is mainly do to JACO. If any other member of the family calls we are permited to give them the name of the contact person in which they can call, this is usually the MPOA or whomever the pt had chosen. Most of the time it works great unless you get a family member that wont accept this policy, then we transfer them to the charge nurse.
  9. by   RN92
    I agree with everyone. HIPPA is there for a reason and you either follow it for everybody or not at all. I can see where people would think "its not that serious, you can make an exception for me...Im her daughter "(for example). Truth is I dont know you're who you say you are. Family and friends will have to learn that its not personal, its just the law.
  10. by   nurse4theplanet
    We have the pt fill out a family data sheet and create a password that must be given before any info is given over the phone. If the pt is unable to do this for themselves, a family member must do when they come to the hospital...usually a spouse, adult child, etc.
  11. by   lovemyjobsometimes
    I work at a major medical center and we are not allowed to give any info without a patients consent. The patient will choose a password to be used by family when they want an update on their condition. Only then can we release any info. In the past we have had some high profile patients and the lengths that lawyers, media etc. will go through is unbelievable.
  12. by   mamalle
    I work in a ER and give the basics- condition and if they are being admitted thats about. I do transfer the call down to the patient's room and let them talk to them further. But it also depends if the patient is altered or some other reason that they cannot speak on the phone then we will give out info or let the doctor speak with them.
  13. by   KellieNurse06
    This is a good discussion topic, and really surprising to come across because coincidently my dad is actually in icu as we speak...
    .....the other night I went up there and the nurse who was there asked me who I was & I told who I was, then was asked asked if I had any questions, I was told some basic stuff but not anything in detail, just basic what tests were done & what's being started/stopped, and condition currently etc..
    His gf of 20 yrs has no legal say in anything due to not being married to him...(and sadly no healthcare proxy), so my cousin had to sign as next of kin & my aunt (her mother /my dad's sister) is the one who communicates with the doctors....then tell me what is going on (long complicated story.....)
    I haven't called the hospital asking anything because I don't think they'd tell me anything due to I haven't seen him since years & years ago and HIPAA regulations..even though I am his daughter & only child because of the fact nothing has been signed by him giving them the ok to discuss his medical care or illness with me for the obvious reasons. And he is obviously not in the condition to give consent either.
    So this is a perfect example of how HIPAA has good/bad.
    Even if you are blood it doesn't matter unless that paper has a signature on it giving the ok..... My other aunt ( on my mom's side) went through this with my uncle a few months ago when he died....there's lots of stuff he didn't tell her & obviously didn't want her to know & the doctors couldn't discuss with her because of HIPAA & he didn't sign any consents for them to discuss him with her either & has even said to a few people "I don't tell her everything"...it's sad & they were married for 45 years too.......:uhoh21:
    3 words to remember..."Health Care Proxy"...
    Last edit by KellieNurse06 on Apr 2, '07
  14. by   nursemary9

    I work in a large, big city Medical Center, it is a Level one trauma center.

    Because of HIPAA, we can not just give out info. On admission, we talk with the pt. about this issue. If they want, they make up a code & give it to us. If the caller knows the code, we can give info, if not, then no info.
    It is up to the pt. to give the code to whom ever he/she wants.

    Mary Ann