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HIPAA Question, Please Help



I'm a CNA, but I noticed there isn't a whole lot of HIPAA information geared toward the CNA in cases of the scenarios that occur during patient care. So, I thought I'd ask some seasoned nurses some advice. What I mean is, there are obvious things like not sharing patient identifiers with anyone other than those who are caring for them, not looking in patient charts if you aren't caring for them, etc etc. Obviously, there are a lot more. Also, I know about patient rights.

What I don't know and what wasn't really covered in CNA training is what if you are taking vital signs on a patient and they ask for their numbers? My instinct is to say, I will be putting your results in your chart and will let your nurse know that you'd like him/her to come and discuss this with you. What about if someone's mother comes to visit and asks how their dad has been feeling today? Or, has my mother had a bath/bowel movement yet today? What is OK and what is not OK to share?

In my CNA training, we were told that to check the pt chart to see which family members are on their HIPAA clause and that there are some things the CNA can say to those people. She didn't really elaborate. The reason I'm asking is because at my new job at the hospital, in orientation, I asked where is the section in the electronic patient charting system, where I can check to see who is on the HIPAA clause for the patients I care for. The lady told me that I don't need to know that because I'm not allowed to share anything at all with anyone.

You can tell a patient their own vitals it's not a secret it's their own health as far as the parent thing it's up to the patient if they are of age and able to speak up for themselves if they want them to know they will tell them if they had a bath or bowel movement


Specializes in Neuro, Telemetry. Has 5 years experience.

You can always tell a patient their own information (vitals and the like I mean). If they ask if their vitals are good or bad, I just tell them I report to the nurse and they will check in if something is off. Everything else is for the nurse or physicians to discuss. If a family memeber walks by and asks for vitals or whatever, just direct them to the nurse for information. If the family member or friend is in the room, first ask the patient (if they are alert and oriented) if it is ok to do the vitals or answer questions in front of the visitor. If the patient is unable to answer, then give no information and again direct to the nurse.

I work in LTC, and it's a little different than the hospital in what you can tell people. Since we know all the residents, we learn who is and isn't ok to talk to about the resident. As a CNA there isn't much info we know anyway, but vitals, weight, how much the resident ate, if they have been more tired, more energetic, stuff like that. We know who we can tell those things. But anything in detail is again refferred to the nurse. Or if there is a serious change to the patient, we tell them nothing and leave it to the nurse.

Basically, if unsure, just send the person asking questions to the nurse. You really can't fail with that, unless its something really dumb. Try not to read to much into it, you basically are just protecting the patient info from other people. So again, if unsure who is ok to give info to, say nothing and refer to the nurse who can check that info.

iluvivt, BSN, RN

Specializes in Infusion Nursing, Home Health Infusion. Has 32 years experience.

U dbl 9L

Straight No Chaser, ASN, LPN

Specializes in Sub-Acute & Long-Term Care Nursing. Has 4 years experience.

You are allowed to tell a patient their own vital signs, but if they have a roomate or family in the room, you should ask that it's ok to tell them while they're there.

HIPAA protects healthcare information about a patient from being relayed, in any capacity, to someone who doesn't have permission to have it AND/OR who doesn't need to know it.

In regards to checking to see who is on the medical record, you would be accessing information in that record that you don't really need to know, so that's probably why. Also, it's not in your scope to relay health information about a patient to their family, because you would then have to elaborate and explain said information, which also isn't in your scope.

I don't think she meant that you couldn't tell someone what their BP is as your're taking it.