HIPAA/HIPPA infraction or not ?!

Nurses General Nursing


I work flex at an outpatient facility for depressed senior citizens. They are usually in the program from 6 to 10 months. Generally, everyone in the group gets along well and many of them become friends while in the program.

One of the patients was moving out-of-state and wanted mailing addresses from her friends in the group so they could keep in touch. So she passed around a handout that she had used that morning and 7 of them wrote their addresses down for her on the back of the handout sheet.

She has bad eyesight and couldn't read a few of the addresses and asked me if I would type them for her in large bold print.

I took her list home, typed it on my computer, printed it out on my printer, and dropped it off the next morning for her.

My boss, the program director, has been written up for this. (She knew of this and saw no problem -- nor did I....or my other 2 coworkers). The regional director heard about it and reported it to corporate headquarters saying we broke the HIPAA "law". She says we gave out patient info.

I did NOT get any info from charts or the patients. I just took her paper and typed it for her at home. The patients gave their own info.

Any HIPAA experts out there?

I feel terrible. My boss is wonderful and I think this is abit overboard!! If what I did was wrong, tell me please!!!


145 Posts

That really sucks since all you were typing was a list of friends, but I think it violates hippa because it had patients' names. Do you know who told the regional director? All the information was voluntary but maybe because an employee made the typed list they thought it was in violation. Sorry that had to happen to you..


583 Posts

I don't feel this was a HIPAA violation.

The friends of the person gave their information to the person moving. You did not provide it.

You did the list at home, on your own time as a favor to the person moving.

I feel you provided a service to a member of the disabled community (poor eyesight), something that could and should have been done at the facility, if for no other reason than to allow this person and the ones who volunteered their information to stay in touch. It was afterall, information given by the patients themselves.

This looks like another example of people not using common sense, and quaking in their boots and blindly following regulations with out knowing whether or not it was a violation. I do not know if it was a true violation, but, there are people who can be contacted if there are questions.

IMHO, we are being regulated away from free thought in the US by the different governmental agencies.



1 Article; 2,394 Posts

Specializes in Everything except surgery.

I don't believe it violates the HIPAA laws, as the patients gave her their addresses, and you or the director didn't give her anything, but what she already had.

The information this person gave you, was given to her by the other patients, who wished her to have it, therefore they consented for her to have the information.

It would've been different if she said oooh I lost the information, can you give me so and so name and address, then that would've been against HIPAA! Sorry I don't agree, and I think somebody is after your boss!


350 Posts

Specializes in Anesthesia.

I agree with those who say this is not a HIPAA violation. Such information was voluntarily given to this woman from the other clients, so how could anyone logically come to the conclusion that this is a violation of patient privacy?

Katnip, RN

2,904 Posts

I don't think it was a HIPPA violation. Whether you typed it, a family member typed it, or Kinkos typed it, the information was given to this woman voluntarily.

I'd fight that write up big time if I were your boss.

I don't think it was against HIPAA law either. The other friends voluntarily gave their names and addresses and you fixed them for her to be able to read. She didn't gain any other information than what the other people had given her. Also, the information that she gained is usually the same info that can be obtained by looking in the phone book or calling information....how is that a violation?? i would also be fighting the write up!!! sorry this happened to you and your boss.

Specializes in Med/Surg, ER, L&D, ICU, OR, Educator.

I don't see any violation in what you did.


160 Posts

As long as you did not provide any ADDITIONAL information, just typed what the patients had written on the paper: NO VIOLATION! You also did it at home, on your computer/typewriter, on your own time, right?

Even if you were investigated, I am pretty sure you would be cleared! Don't sweat it!

nurseygrrl, LPN

445 Posts

Specializes in HIV/AIDS, Dementia, Psych.

Boy...are the people at your job looking THAT hard for something to do? You were just trying to be nice, and the people WANTED this person to have their addresses. Not a violation in my opinion.

No violation that I can see. Info was given by others on a voluntary basis. You were only doing her a favor by enlarging info to accomandate her poor eye sight. FIGHT the write up. Also, take a look at the Hippa law, know what you are speaking about when it comes time to file a rebuttal. Sounds like someone is looking hard at trying to cause trouble for you, watch yourself.


102 Posts

Absolutely not a HIPAA violation. I recently read an article in a local newspaper in CA (while away on vacation, can't remember town or city) that went into the over-interpretation of this act and how ridiculous this has become.

No violation, because, as others have stated, there was no medical information involved and the personal information was given voluntarily by the owners of this information.

You were simply performing professional nursing (albeit in your own time!) assisting a client to 'perform those duties which s/he would otherwise do for him/herself if she had the necessary strength, will or knowledge' - strength referring to eyesight in this context.

Print out some of these responses, give them to your boss and mount a vigorous rebuttal of the officious ****** (probably not a nursing person?) who overstepped his/her knowledge.

There was a recent long CEU type article on HIPAA in the CA version of NurseWeek - can you obtain that to help?

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