This is a stretch to call HIPAA violation

  1. I work in an outpatient clinic and recently went to EMR. As part of meaningful use, the front desk is required to print a summary of the day's office visit for each pt. One day a teenager and their parent came in, and upon checking out the parent went to the restroom so the front desk staff gave the office summary to the pt, who put it in their backpack. A week later the parent called, raising cain, and yelling HIPAA because, and I quote, "If someone else had gotten their backpack and opened it they'd see all her medical information!", then proceeded to call our business office and file a HIPAA violation complaint against our office. Since then, the front desk staff has to print the office visit summary and put it in a sealed envelope (now there's an option for pts to opt-out of receiving the summary). I tried to reassure our front desk that they did NOT violate HIPAA because they gave the pt their own summary and once it's out the door it's out of our hands. Was that a violation?
    •  
  2. Visit T-Bird78 profile page

    About T-Bird78

    Joined: Oct '12; Posts: 809; Likes: 1,192

    24 Comments

  3. by   klone
    No, not at all.
  4. by   Eru Ilúvatar
    Quote from T-Bird78
    I work in an outpatient clinic and recently went to EMR. As part of meaningful use, the front desk is required to print a summary of the day's office visit for each pt. One day a teenager and their parent came in, and upon checking out the parent went to the restroom so the front desk staff gave the office summary to the pt, who put it in their backpack. A week later the parent called, raising cain, and yelling HIPAA because, and I quote, "If someone else had gotten their backpack and opened it they'd see all her medical information!", then proceeded to call our business office and file a HIPAA violation complaint against our office. Since then, the front desk staff has to print the office visit summary and put it in a sealed envelope (now there's an option for pts to opt-out of receiving the summary). I tried to reassure our front desk that they did NOT violate HIPAA because they gave the pt their own summary and once it's out the door it's out of our hands. Was that a violation?
    The information was shared with the patient which is an involved party. What happens with that information after its in the patients hands is up to them. HIPAA mostly has to do with restricting the sharing of confidential patient information with other sources.
    The policy of giving sealed envelopes is a good one. But I dont see a violation here.
  5. by   T-Bird78
    Thought so. And the bad thing is, the main office never explained that to the parent and never backed us up. We now have a HIPAA complaint against us, which factors into bonuses and raises.
  6. by   klone
    That sucks. They should have backed you up and provided some education to the parents on what constitutes a violation. I think it's a ridiculous waste of resources to to have to put the sheet in a sealed envelope.
  7. by   elkpark
    How old is this "teenager"? An adult according to your state law? I can see the parent being upset that the summary was given to the adolescent rather than the responsible parent. While I'm not saying I believe this is a violation, I can see that the issue would be a lot clearer if you had put the summary into the parent's hands rather than the kid's. Then, what the parent did with it from there would clearly be the parent's responsibility. The legality of kids vs. adults is kind of tricky, and worth paying attention to.
  8. by   BloomNurseRN
    That is ridiculous. I'm sorry your office didn't back you up. While it would have probably been better to hand the summary to the parent, depending on the age of he teenager, there truly is no violation here. Wow. Keep your heads up and if you're in a supervisory position, do your best to discuss this with higher ups to educate on HIPAA and how this was NOT a violation. People scream that without having a clue what it really is or what it actually protects. It's our job to educate and definitely encourage the staff that they did not violate HIPAA.
  9. by   meanmaryjean
    I bet the parents called it HIPPA, too!
  10. by   Jolie
    I am truly sorry that administration chose not to discuss the situation with the parent and educate her on HIPAA, deciding instead to mandate envelopes, which are a complete waste of time and money, and will offer no protection when one is misplaced by the next patient, leading to the next false claim of wrongdoing.

    I believe it is a symptom of a much larger societal problem where individuals and agencies are so paralyzed by fear of litigation that they roll over and do anything they perceive may lessen the risk.

    A shame.
  11. by   hppygr8ful
    I don't know about other states but in California Teens have all kinds of privacy protections. I have Kaiser insurance which offers all kinds of on-line info such as visit summaries and prescriptions refills - but when I try to access my 13 year old's info on-line I get a message that my teen's privacy does not allow me to look at his records. I actually have to make an appointment and bring my teen with me to get copies of his medical records - Sheesh.

    Hppy
  12. by   Omaapecm
    Doesn't sound like a violation to me. What did they expect from this???
  13. by   elkpark
    Quote from hppygr8ful
    I don't know about other states but in California Teens have all kinds of privacy protections. I have Kaiser insurance which offers all kinds of on-line info such as visit summaries and prescriptions refills - but when I try to access my 13 year old's info on-line I get a message that my teen's privacy does not allow me to look at his records. I actually have to make an appointment and bring my teen with me to get copies of his medical records - Sheesh.

    Hppy
    (That's why I was asking -- the legalities of teens vs. parents vary greatly among states.)
  14. by   Ruby Vee
    I think the OP's office should have backed her up and provided some HIPAA training to the parent. I also think that folks who throw fits as a first step ought not to be rewarded. (Or any tantrum -- it just provides positive reinforcement for the abhorrent behavior.)

close