would this be a hipaa violation?


One of my coworkers is very close with one of our residents, theyve just become good friends since my coworker started working there...like they go out to dinner, and talk on the phone ... whatever..

Anyways, this coworker I always overhear her telling this resident about all the other residents!! Like for example: Resident will be like "what was wrong with soandso tonight" And my coworkers will tell her everything right now to the diagnosis!! I feel like Im in a weird position because this resident now expects me to tell her stuff like that too!! And I always say were not allowed, but then she says well "Coworker" tells me! I feel like its not right, but maybe Im wrong.....:eek:


21 Posts

if both parties are involved in the patient's care and need to share information pertinent to the patient's care, then it's not a HIPAA violation. if patient identifiers are left out and a case is simply described in the context of the resident's action then it's not a hipaa violation (gossipy though it may be).

if one medical professional gossips to another about a patient without taking care to remove things that might identify the patient (date, room number, name, birthday, what have you), then it's definitely a hipaa violation.

it sounds like you just might have a friend who likes to gossip about their coworkers =)

rn/writer, RN

17 Articles; 4,168 Posts

If your coworker is telling Resident A about Resident B's information, then, yes, that most definitely is a HIPAA violation.


151 Posts

Specializes in Medicine.

Are you talking about a patient or a doctor?

Our facility refers doctors doing their residency as residents so I just wanted to clarify what you meant.

If it's a patient your talking about then I would definitely not participate (and it's likely a violation of the named policy) and your co-worker is digging her own grave there. But in general don't participate in this gossip going on. You're smart for staying out of it!


86 Posts

Yes I am talking about a resident... pt. its LTC. And yes my coworker talks to the pt about other pts... i jus feel awkward, because it puts a strain on the relationship with me and the pt because she doesnt like me because i dont tell her crap!! she already knows everything because my coworker tells her, and shell say stuff to me like "oh resident1 has diarreah, has it stopped yet?"

It is driving me up a wall!!!!

rn/writer, RN

17 Articles; 4,168 Posts

This is really wrong. Do other employees know about this? Has anyone ever spoken to the charge nurse or DON?

This isn't a problem only because it's rude and unprofessional. The facility can get in a heap of trouble for allowing this kind of behavior to go on.

I also question the apparent personal attachment you spoke of. Going out to dinner and talking on the phone--especially if such attention is focused on only one resident--could be seen as crossing the line. Too much potential for favoritism and, as you have seen, inappropriate behavior.

Specializes in Pediatrics.

Yes it is a HIPAA violation.

I too would be raising an eyebrow to the relationship the co-worker has with the resident, professional boundries are being breached. Have you brought your concerns to your co-worker?

If, said resident ask you about other residents, tell her to ask them herself.

I had a resident who was well liked by many, he got sick and stayed in his room, well his fan club missed him and I was asked by residents and family members of other residents how Mr X is, and what is wrong with him, well if Mr X wants you to know you can go and ask yourself, but it is not my place to tell you


2 Posts

That is absolutely a HIPPA violation. Staff should in no way be telling a patient about other patients. Not appropriate. This should be addressed with the person who is in violation. Does this person understand HIPPA?


21 Posts

My apologies for misunderstanding the original question. I thought you were talking about a medical resident as in a doctor!

Telling anyone, especially another patient about another's treatment is of course a violation of HIPAA. I'm surprised your coworker is so cavalier about it. The only situation in which talking about a patient's treatment in front of someone not involved in their care is appropriate is when that patient orally or in writing gives permission to discuss their care with XYZ person.

Specializes in LTC. Has 18 years experience.

Yikes. That would be a resounding YES. Definitely a chain of command thing; address it with your co-worker, if you can (of course it will not be comfortable). If you can't discuss it with her or you discuss it with her and nothing changes, address it with your DNS/unit manager/whoever is next up the chain.

Brea LPN

143 Posts

Specializes in LTC. Has 5 years experience.

That's 100% wrong of your coworker.

Specializes in PACU, OR.

OP, I Think you knew the answer before you posed the question. Of course it is an invasion of the other patients' privacy. You have been advised to approach your DON about this, and I think it is very likely that this nurse will lose her job if you do. She and the facility can be sued if the other patients become aware that personal info regarding themselves is being passed on to another patient.

It's a nasty situation altogether. I know I would find it very difficult to push anyone into the hole that's been prepared for them even if they did their own digging, but if you don't, then the truth becomes public and it comes to light that you were aware of the situation and did nothing about it, then you could land up in that hole alongside her. On the whole, for the sake of the other patients and your facility, it's better to report this to your manager.