Nurses Activism


HIPPA the big hippopatomus

Sorry just got off a bad shift.

How do you manage when relatives call to enquire about their dad or their niece? do you include a ,'do you want people to know you are in the hospital?' in their interview/admission asessment?


691 Posts

Specializes in Clinical Risk Management.

That would be a good idea. I believe that's how it's being handled by my facility. HIPPA is making everyone's life so very interesting...we will eventually get used to it, though, I suppose.

Hang in there. In six months, it'll feel considerably more confortable.

Yes, each person when admitted to the hospital is asked whether or not they want to be included in the hospital patient directory. The directory would mean that they could recieve phone calls and visitors from anyone. If they refuse, they are what is called a "protected patient". My problem with this is that I had a patient that was "protected". All information had to be withheld unless, it was a contact person that the patient listed. Otherwise it was a "sorry, we don't have anyone listed by that name".

Well, we had a visitor come up to the desk asking for this protected patient. We gave our little song and dance about the patient not being here. The visitor gave a confused look and then walked away. Then she returned to the desk, and asked someone else the same question and the same response was given. So she went downstairs and somehow found out the patient room and went to it.

Now this patient had over 15 people visit her on the weekend that I had her. How can you be in "protected" status if half the town visits you and you accept. We weren't telling anyone the patient was there. I asked the patient, if she knew what "protected privacy" was. She said that she knew, but that she didn't want it at this time and wanted it removed. She just wanted it for after surgery. So I documented as such and removed the hold by her name.

Education, education, education....

As for those that call, if they are not on protected privacy, I direct the call into the room. If the caller doesn't like it, then that is just too bad. Besides, I don't have time to police every caller to make sure there are whom they claim to be.


630 Posts

Specializes in OB, Telephone Triage, Chart Review/Code.

This is so confusing. I work in one hospital where if a visitor/caller does not know the room number of the patient, they are told that the staff is not allowed to give that information out. In the other hospital where I work, when people call, they are transferred to that patient's room.

I don't understand.

Is switchboard allowed to transfer calls to the patient's rooms if the caller does not know where the patient is?

I think all calls should be with the switchboard and not to the nurses station. If a patient does not wish others to know they are there, then switchboard could be notified.

Are we allowed to give out room numbers to visitors? This lets them know the patient is in the hospital. Is that an invasion of privacy?

Better guidelines for units (specific) are what is needed. As per moonshadeau, I don't have time to police every caller, and I certainly don't have time to "play switchboard operator" for every caller.

Specializes in Telemetry, Case Management.

This is making me crazy. One floor in my hospital will not give out any information. A pt's son came to the desk and said I know my mom, Mrs. X was admitted to this floor, but I thought she was in room 123 and she's not, what room is she in? And the charge nurse told him, we can't tell you, you have to inquire at pt registration, etc. He was MAD!!!

Next day, work a different floor in same hospital, oh, yes Mrs. Y in in room 321 and have a nice day.

Next day after that, callers on another floor told they have to contact pt's next of kin to get a "code number" and then they can give out info to them.

Are we nurses or secret agents? This is ridiculous.


6,011 Posts


And WE had a woman come to the desk and said her husband was on our floor but had been moved to another room on the floor. The secretary recognised the woman and gave her the new number.

The woman then went to the husband's new room pulled him out of bed and began to strangle him down on the floor. A surgeon passing by notified security and us.....the doc didn't want to risk hurting his hands I guess.

We no longer give out room numbers to ANYONE. If a visitor has a problem they're referred to guest relations who will handle it.

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