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Have my rights been violated?

HIPAA   (4,744 Views 9 Comments)
by FredericksonL FredericksonL (New) New

560 Profile Views; 1 Post

If someone has told another person something about me that could only have been information retrieved from my medical records, what are my legal rights?

I know that the nurse involved has mentioned in the past that she could look at anyone's medical records. I also know the law regarding that statement. She can only view records on patients she is assigned to. I do not go to the hospital she works at, I do not go to the doctors she works for. However, the information she gave someone about me (which has devastated this person, which devastates me) is only known by my physician, God, and me.

I do not want her to lose her job, but I want to be able to speak to her about this and let her know that I know MY rights where her indiscretion is concerned and if it happens again, I will file a report.

Is it possible, under the above-mentioned circumstances, for her to have viewed my medical records?

Thank you in advance for any information.

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AJJKRN has 6+ years experience and specializes in Medical-Surgical/Float Pool/Stepdown.

1,224 Posts; 21,097 Profile Views

If the person has access to your medical records and chose to use poor judgement and to be utterly unethical then, YES, they could have which deserves punishment if they did. I personally would have to be 1000% sure before reporting them but if I was I would report them in a heartbeat because this means this person probably uses poor judgement in their everyday practice which could impact way more patients/people/peers than just you...good luck to you and I hope that your privacy was not invaded but I also hope you will find the direction you need to take if it really was.

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1 Follower; 51 Articles; 4,800 Posts; 93,552 Profile Views

We can not give legal advice, per AN TOS, however, as a general "where to go from here" I would pass this by an attorney.

Here's the thing. If this person works at a facility you do not go to, and doesn't work for the MD you go to, I am not sure where this information came from. Someone who DOES work at one of these 2 places? Another person involved in your particular situation? (a lab/x-ray person?)

I would think that if you were to file a complaint with the facility, they can investigate via a footprint of who accessed your medical record and when. But I would speak to an attorney regarding this.

It is highly, highly unethical for any nurse to spread rumor and gossip regarding anyone's medical record/information. I would see if the BON can do anything about that as well, as far as you filing a complaint.

But with all that being said, be absolutely sure this is what happened, and not just a bunch of hear-say. There are some instances where another person involved is required to be notified--(and each state is different, so check with your attorney) meaning if it is a public health issue, a contagious disease process, that type of thing sometimes there's requirements that others involved with you are to be notified.

I am so sorry this happened to you, and best wishes going forward.

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USA987 has 15 years experience and specializes in L&D, Behavioral Health.

823 Posts; 7,066 Profile Views

How does she have access to medical records if she doesn't work there?

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3 Articles; 10,428 Posts; 89,405 Profile Views

Obviously we cannot give legal advice, which has already been mentioned, but it just seems to me that based on what you said....it isn't the nurse you are looking at that's the primary problem, but someone else.

What I mean is you said the nurse in question does not work for your physician, does not work in that office, does not work in a hospital you visit. How, then, did she obtain this information? It would seem that it would have had to have come from someone who DOES work at your physician's office, or at the hospital you DO visit.

While it is obviously unethical for her to discuss anyone else's specific medical condition to an outsider wiithout having any direct-care involvement, she would only be guilty of spreading gossip, not breaching HIPAA. She might be culpable for an ethics violation if the BoN gets involved but that isn't the same thing as breaking the law. The person who created the HIPAA violation would be the one who accessed your medical charts, viewed the info, and told someone who was not authorized to know the information. Anyone who then hears this information and passes it further on is only spreading a rumor, since they cannot know it to be a fact.

At any rate, it seems you should be contacting an attorney, who could start the investigation and see who it WAS that made the breach.

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Jolie is a BSN and specializes in Maternal - Child Health.

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If the nurse in question does not work for a healthcare provider or facility that you have used, and doesn't work for your health insurance company, it seems highly unlikely that she has any access to your information in a professional setting.

Without such access, she has no duty to adhere to HIPAA where you are concerned.

While she may be guilty of gossip, I don't see how she could possibly be guilty of a HIPAA violation. The person who provided the information to her is the person about whom you should be concerned.

Simply being a nurse does not make it illegal to talk about other people's health. I agree that it is unseemly, but not illegal.

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457 Posts; 9,935 Profile Views

If the nurse works for a provider who has privileges at a hospital in which the OP has been a patient, it's possible that that nurse has access to the OP's hospital records. The hospitals here provide physicians access to hospital records from the physician's office if the physician has privileges at that hospital.

If the nurse works for a hospital that is in the same health care system as the hospital where the OP has been a patient, then the nurse might have access to hospital records at all the hospitals in the same health care system. A lot of health care systems have 1 patient record accessible by any hospital in the system rather than a different record for each hospital.

OP you can request an accounting of all access to your medical records at the hospital and physician's office. They should have a Privacy Officer or Patient Advocate who can help you get this information.

If you feel your PHI has been accessed inappropriately, you can file a complaint with the Office of Civil Rights at

How To File a Complaint

They will investigate your concern.

Edited by NRSKarenRN

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Fiona59 has 18 years experience.

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We don't know where the OP lives or what healthcare system they utilize.

In my province, everyones medical records are on line. Frontline nursing staff, unit clerks, lab techs, doctors all have access via a password system.

Every time you enter a record you have a screen that reminds you that you are traceable when in the system and of the privacy laws.

You can and will be terminated if your tracks are in a record they shouldn't be. Any user of the system can request to know who has been looking by calling a 1-800 number.

The last incident I remember involved a resident checking out her boyfriend's, ex's records. That should be "former resident" Gone. What a way to blow a career.

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938 Posts; 13,888 Profile Views

Maybe you should ask the person how she knows that information, and ask her not to repeat it.

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