Was it or was it not?

  1. Okay, I had a situation a while back and it's been bugging me whether or not it was a violation of HIPAA. A minor was brought in for a new pt appt by the mother, only to find out later that mom did not have custody of the minor but grandparent did. Was that a violation for sharing all that info with mom because mom isn't the guardian? Grandparent did come by and bring the guardianship papers and corrected the forms. Same minor was brought for follow up by another family member (aunt) with signed consent; grandparent met them at the appt to discharge and go home. Later that day, aunt's employer called and I answered. Aunt's employer said aunt brought our work excuse note but wanted to verify it because employer didn't believe it. I said "Yes, aunt was here this morning, and that's all I can tell you." Employer kept hounding me, asking who aunt was there with and why and was the appt scheduled or was it an emergency situation; aunt had told employer it was an emergency appt. I again told employer that I could only verify aunt had been there and couldn't say who or why. The next day, pt's guardian called furious because the aunt was fired and employer told guardian that I had told them everything, who aunt was there with and why; guardian told me that was a violation of federal law and I was in big trouble with her. I reiterated to guardian what I had told employer and what I legally could NOT tell employer. Luckily, guardian and aunt turned their tirade on aunt's employer for wrongful termination, but could I have gotten in trouble if they had pursued further?
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    About T-Bird78

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

    6 Comments

  3. by   systoly
    the employer had a written note - end of story
    here's my deal, "you're calling, because you don't believe the note
    is authentic yet you want me to believe you are who you claim you are,
    please refer to the note and do have a wonderful day"
  4. by   DragonPurr
    Correct me if I'm wrong but I thought HIPAA covered patient information not anyone else. I hardly see where you could be faulted for a HIPAA violation in referencing the aunt who was not a patient. Meh..all this BS starts to get on my nerves. People just need to get a grip and get over themselves.
  5. by   psu_213
    Quote from DragonPurr
    Correct me if I'm wrong but I thought HIPAA covered patient information not anyone else. I hardly see where you could be faulted for a HIPAA violation in referencing the aunt who was not a patient.
    I don't want to put words in the OP's mouth, but I think he/she was wondering if what he/she said to the employer is appropriate and could he/she tell the employer who the appointment was for, what the appointment was for, was it an emergency appointment, etc. If that is the case, no, you (the OP) should not share any more details with the employer. If the employer does not believe the note, that, unfortunately, becomes the aunt's problem. This happens all the time in the ER: "I had to bring my mother in today, so I [the family member, not the patient] need an excuse note." We will sign a generic excuse note saying they were in the ER. It does not state they were not the patient. It does not state who the patient was, how they were related to the patient, or why the patient was there. If they employer does not accept that note, then the employer has to deal with it. Plus, dare I say it, if the employer demands a more detailed note, it indicates to me that they employee has an attendance issue to begin with--why would an employer demand a detailed excuse note if the employee missing just few hours of work?
  6. by   huangmichellem
    ohhhh i seeee
  7. by   T-Bird78
    Yeah, the employer was demanding to know whom the appt was for and why they were there, which I refused to clarify. Apparently, aunt had told them it was an emergency visit for her own child and they were trying to verify that. It wasn't the truth, but I'm not going to say "oh, aunt was here with niece/nephew Jenny/Johnny for blah blah blah", and just confirmed aunt was in our office.
  8. by   psu_213
    Quote from T-Bird78
    Yeah, the employer was demanding to know whom the appt was for and why they were there, which I refused to clarify. Apparently, aunt had told them it was an emergency visit for her own child and they were trying to verify that. It wasn't the truth, but I'm not going to say "oh, aunt was here with niece/nephew Jenny/Johnny for blah blah blah", and just confirmed aunt was in our office.
    Bingo--just confirm that the aunt was there. Not why she was there, not routine vs. emergency, not whom the appt. was for. If the employer wants more, that is the aunt's battle to fight.

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