PDN Nurses-asking about previous pt's Hipaa violation?

  1. There is an email blast going around the agency that nurses that ask about their former patient's well being might be committing a Hipaa violation.
    How,especially if there is no written evidence and it is in the presence of nobody else?

    Also,if that is the case,then is it a Hipaa violation when the agency emails me about a former case I was working for 7 years ago to tell me that the patient passed away?
    Last edit by smartnurse1982 on Nov 30, '16
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    About smartnurse1982, RN

    Joined: Jun '08; Posts: 1,786; Likes: 1,308

    9 Comments

  3. by   Rose_Queen
    Asking about a former patient's well being does not fall into the need to know category. The patient is no longer under your care. Therefore, it would be a HIPAA violation.

    As for being notified of a former patient's death, that would depend on whether the patient's wishes were to have previous nurses notified or not. With my grandmother's death after cancer and in home hospice care, the family as a whole requested the nurses who had been involved in her care to be notified. Two of them attended the funeral.
  4. by   smartnurse1982
    Quote from Rose_Queen
    Asking about a former patient's well being does not fall into the need to know category. The patient is no longer under your care. Therefore, it would be a HIPAA violation.

    As for being notified of a former patient's death, that would depend on whether the patient's wishes were to have previous nurses notified or not. With my grandmother's death after cancer and in home hospice care, the family as a whole requested the nurses who had been involved in her care to be notified. Two of them attended the funeral.
    What if the nurse asks me and i reply "She is doing well".

    That is still a violation?
    I assume it is.
  5. by   JustBeachyNurse
    Quote from smartnurse1982
    What if the nurse asks me and i reply "She is doing well".

    That is still a violation?
    I assume it is.
    Yes.

    I find the nurses most often asking were removed from the case either by parent or nurse choice and can't let go.

    I just ignore the question and if the nurse persists refer to the clinical manager.

    Death notices may be public or family requested former nurses be notified
  6. by   caliotter3
    If this is a nurse asking you and you are currently on the case, I would just refer the nurse to the agency for the info. Obviously the agency has found this to be a problem, perceived or real, or they wouldn't have sent the email blast. To protect yourself, might want to make a mental note of the request. You know how things get twisted in the telling when somebody gets in trouble.
  7. by   Meriwhen
    If they're sending a message out like this, it's not for jollies. So even though it may seem like overkill, they're taking the matter seriously.

    When asked about a patient by someone with no need to know, "I don't know" is a perfectly acceptable answer.
  8. by   MunoRN
    Quote from smartnurse1982
    What if the nurse asks me and i reply "She is doing well".

    That is still a violation?
    I assume it is.
    That's not actually a HIPAA violation since it doesn't reveal any protected medical information and HIPAA specifically allows for the patient's overall condition to be given out using "general terms", and that would seem pretty general. But as a general rule, I just would ask about former patients.

    Revealing that a patient passed away is also not a HIPAA violation since deaths are publicly available information.
  9. by   smartnurse1982
    Quote from MunoRN
    That's not actually a HIPAA violation since it doesn't reveal any protected medical information and HIPAA specifically allows for the patient's overall condition to be given out using "general terms", and that would seem pretty general. But as a general rule, I just would ask about former patients.

    Revealing that a patient passed away is also not a HIPAA violation since deaths are publicly available information.

    So saying "Ok" is general terms and thus not protected?
  10. by   JustBeachyNurse
    Quote from smartnurse1982
    So saying "Ok" is general terms and thus not protected?
    If you indicate to a third party that you know someone as a patient. Such as "hey smartnurse are you taking care of John Doe on bond street? How is he doing?" Being asked by a neighbor and you saying ok is identifying.

    Another nurse you were explicitly told by your employer not to discuss patients. How do you know if that nurse isn't fishing to see if you will break policy to complain? If you both know John Doe is a patient it's not revealing much except you were told to not discuss patients.
  11. by   MunoRN
    Quote from smartnurse1982
    So saying "Ok" is general terms and thus not protected?
    You're not revealing any PHI so no, it is not a HIPAA violation. As an example, if the patient was in the hospital and someone called and inquired how they were doing, HIPAA specifically allows us to both confirm the patient is in the hospital and to describe the patient's overall condition in "general terms".

    What you need to worry about more than HIPAA however is employer policies, and if you're employer's policy is essentially to misinterpret HIPAA and to enforce that misinterpretation then that's what you need to worry about to keep your job.

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