Hipaa violation

  1. Last Tuesday I was controlling(circulating) an OR case. Not realized I controlled the entire case until the scrub techs log in. We alternate every case. 2 coworkers charts were accessed during my time doing the case. I am being investigated. I have in the past accessed my own chart. During the case I did not access anything out of the ordinary. The computer we use is in a common area where people come in and out continuously. No cameras. I did however look at my mother in laws chart bc her bday was coming up and couldn't remember when. Now HR sent the time stamps of when the co workers charts were accessed. I told them I didn't do it. The scrub tech didn't and is off the hook bc he was documented as in the case at the times. My fear is termination. They cannot fully prove who looked at the charts and they haven't brought up my mother in laws chart being opened during that case. I know I was stupid and I'm distraught over all this. I've been crying and lost 10lbs in 4 days. I cannot lose my job!
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    About nurse2097482

    Joined: Sep '18; Posts: 2; Likes: 2

    17 Comments

  3. by   NICU Guy
    Quote from Kayblair16
    I have in the past accessed my own chart. I did however look at my mother in laws chart bc her bday was coming up and couldn't remember when. I cannot lose my job!
    While you may not be guilty of the violation in this case, you have caused a HIPAA violation twice even though you hadn't been caught. If you can't lose your job, why did you access your file and your MIL's chart.

    Why are you logged-in in a common area while you are not present where anyone can use your log-in? Why can't they log-in under their own name?
  4. by   nurse2097482
    We often use each other's log ins bc we switch back and forth so much on what we do. It's not uncommon in our area and the supervisor is aware. I was not logged in under my name at the time. " I cannot lose my job" is my mental thought that I'm going to, and what am I going to do! there isn't a ton of jobs out there for what I do and I enjoy my job and also make a lot more money doing it.
  5. by   chare
    Quote from Kayblair16
    We often use each other's log ins bc we switch back and forth so much on what we do. It's not uncommon in our area and the supervisor is aware. I was not logged in under my name at the time...
    This really shouldn't be happening, and you definitely should not be allowing others to access the EMR under your login. Your employer doesn't have to f"fully prove who looked at the charts" as whomever is logged in is ultimately responsible for everything that happens under her/his log in, regardless of whether he/she was present, or not. And while I have never seen disciplinary proceedings for this start at this level, this has been grounds for immediate termination at any facility where I've worked.

    Best wishes as your employer sorts this out.
  6. by   broughden
    You looked at your mother in law's medical records to ascertain her birthday? Reeeeaaally?
  7. by   Rose_Queen
    1. Never be logged into a computer that you aren't physically in front of. Don't use a computer that another person is logged into. Just because that's what is done on your unit doesn't make it right.
    2. Never access a chart of someone who isn't a patient you are providing care to at that moment. There is another thread here where someone was fired for going into the chart of a previous patient because of curiosity. There were better ways to get your MIL's birthday.

    HIPAA, quite frankly, is not that difficult to understand. It is part of nursing education, it is part of onboarding, it should be an annual review. Becoming lax, like your department clearly has, it what leads to violations. Learn from this- no matter what the culture on the unit is, do the right thing. Should you be terminated and find a job elsewhere, take the lesson with you.
  8. by   SpankedInPittsburgh
    Just out of curiosity. You were cruising the charts for sensitive information under a co-workers sign-in account. If push comes to shove and someone is going to be held accountable for this HIPAA violation will you let her get punished for your simple nosiness? If it comes down to her or you getting fired will you own up?
  9. by   Sassy-RN
    What you have described does not sound like it will end well for you.

    Huge violations have been made. I've seen people get fired for way less.
  10. by   Leader25
    [[/QUOTE]I have in the past accessed my own chart. During the case I did not access anything out of the ordinary. The computer we use is in a common area where people come in and out continuously. No cameras. I did however look at my mother in laws chart bc her bday was coming up and couldn't remember when. Now HR sent the time stamps of when the co workers charts were accessed. I told them I didn't do i



    It does not matter your reasons for looking in those charts[/B],what matters is your hospital policy of which you should have been aware.There is zero tolerance for those violations.
    Your "supervisor being aware" is not a valid excuse.
    "there are no cameras" ,you really think they will tell you when they put cameras or ask your permission?These days assume,everything is on camera.
    Then your lying about it and possibly someone else being to blame is wrong.

    I hope you do not get fired.Best of luck to you.
  11. by   psu_213
    Quote from nurse2097482
    I did however look at my mother in laws chart bc her bday was coming up and couldn't remember when.
    First, it is not a HIPAA violation for someone to look at his/her own chart. Some facilities prohibit it, and use HIPAA as the reason, but HIPAA alone does not prevent employees from looking at their own charts.

    The quoted part above, however, about looking into your MIL's chart, really leaves me shaking my head. With the importance of HIPAA and privacy in general, I just can't get past how a licensed nurse would find it acceptable to go into a family member's chart; much like I can't understand how a nurse finds it acceptable to go to another unit and look through the chart of someone who is not his/her patient. Sorry if that sounds mean, but I just don't understand how a nurse finds that acceptable. Looking at the MIL's chart along with the laxity about computer log-ins raises serious privacy concerns R/T this unit.
  12. by   Hoosier_RN
    I work in a clinic where my father in law and mother in law are patients, but I don't partipate in their care due to possible conflict of interest (many others who can provide their care), though I am a healthcare POA for them. He or my mother in law often ask me to look up info on them 'next time I'm working'. I tell them that they must call the office and go through appropriate channels, just for the reason that the OP is having issues. The doctor or NP will often come discuss with me later in the day so that I can answer their questions or take any printouts to them (I live by them). I figure if I was to have time to go snooping in other patients records, I've got time to help with other tasks that won't get me into trouble
  13. by   iluvivt
    This is not good .Immediately change your practice no matter what others decide to do.Never ever use anyones else log in or let them use yours and always log out when you are done.Never leave your computer station unattended.In fact set it up to shut down after X amt of inactivity time.I have mine set for 2 minutes.OK,so if you did not log in using your own user name and password,who's did you use? Is that what you are telling us.They can fire you or discipline you for that alone as I am certain you have a Network Users Policy. You said you did not do it so could the persons log in you used...could they have done it? PLEASE stop accessing charts of any patient that you are not providing care to.The minute those employee charts were accessed they knew about it.When we first went to computer charting they did not realize the IV nurses access charts all over the building and also that we get called for advice and policy questions all the time.This often requires that we get information from the chart.They kept investigating us and asking us why we looked in this chart and that chart.They also had an employee that was hospitalized and one of our nurses placed an IV in on her but what they wanted to know why she spent one minute in the pt information section....Really! So they do really look at these things.Whenever I access a chart that I may not give hands on care but I may be helping the nurse with information only I make a note upon entering the chart about why I am in it.I never want to lose my source of income over an issue like this.Please clean up your act and try to squeak out of this.Tell them you did not do it but your group has a problem and you all need to improve.That way they will see it as not just involving you.Take some responsiblity without implicating yourself.
    Last edit by iluvivt on Sep 6
  14. by   inthecosmos
    Accessing patient charts that you are not responsible for is a HIPAA violation. Regardless of what happens, this should be a lesson.

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