HIPAA violation or no?

  1. I work in community mental health with people with severe mental illness. It's a unique type of nursing job.

    Recently my patient's daughter was venting to me, very distressed. Per company training, I asked her if she would like me to refer her (the daughter) to our intensive family support services program, which is free for her. She said yes. It was the first time I had done a referral like this.

    The referral form asks for info about my patient, including name and date of birth. But the referral is for my patient's daughter, who is her caregiver. I have permission from my patient to share info with her daughter, but I do not have permission to share info with this program, which is also run by my agency. I would ask for that permission, but I feel like it is not necessary and she shouldn't consent to that. My thought is that my agency is not concerned about privacy breaches that are within our own agency. I disagree. Mental health needs special protection IMO.

    I am not about to give my patient's name and DOB on the form. My intention is to leave that blank. But I would like to put down that my patient's daughter is the caregiver of a person with schizophrenia, since that is relevant info to qualify her for the program. Would that also potentially be a HIPAA or some kind of privacy violation?

    What do you all suggest? I feel strongly that my patient's daughter would benefit from the referral, and she needs some help, which will also benefit my patient who is having a rough time dealing with her.
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    About FolksBtrippin, BSN, RN

    Joined: Oct '13; Posts: 1,288; Likes: 3,637

    6 Comments

  3. by   KelRN215
    Does the person referred to the program have to be a family member of a patient in your facility? And that's the only way they qualify for the program? That's my guess, that this program needs to match the family member to the patient of the facility in order to accept her into the program.
  4. by   Penelope_Pitstop
    Quote from KelRN215
    Does the person referred to the program have to be a family member of a patient in your facility? And that's the only way they qualify for the program? That's my guess, that this program needs to match the family member to the patient of the facility in order to accept her into the program.
    This is my thought as well.

    I did community mental health with the SPMI population for a while and I know our programs were funded by Medicare. Due to the fraud potential for no-cost services, I imagine there must be some way to verify that these individuals are family members of those in the program.

    Also, the consents signed at intake more than likely cover this because it is within the agency.
  5. by   chare
    If you have concerns with providing this information why don't you address them with your manager? He or is should be familiar with this program and eligibility requirements and is better situated to answer this question.
  6. by   FolksBtrippin
    The person referred does not have to be related to a member of our program. IFSS is a state funded grant based program. The person referred needs to be personally involved (family, close friend) with a person with mental illness and live in our county. The person with mental illness could be in treatment or not, in our program or not.

    I have decided to send the referral with my patients name and DOB blacked out. IFSS can get that info from the family member if they choose, but its not coming from me.
  7. by   FolksBtrippin
    Quote from chare
    If you have concerns with providing this information why don't you address them with your manager? He or is should be familiar with this program and eligibility requirements and is better situated to answer this question.
    Currently, I don't have a nurse manager. The people above me are not nurses.

    I wanted to hear from nurses on the topic.
  8. by   hppygr8ful
    If the counseling is under your same program and if Daughter is POA care giver then all of this is covered under the same HIPAA envelope. We run into this all the time. at our facility - if they are going from in-patient to out patient and they can't sign a release of information the care give must do this. Of we simply don't forward to info and the new provider has to take their on history.

    The daughter could certainly fill in the family counselor once she starts.

    Hppy

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