How to dodge HIPAA?


I am loking for some idea's on how to work around this Hippa issue. I have a neighbor who... let's say is not one of most upstanding citizens in our community and has numerous warrents for his arrest. The police know him very well but are never able to find him outside of his house. The other day he came into our ED for a follow up to an mvc. We have a police officer there 24/7. Could I have just told the officer that he had warrents or could I have fraised it in a way as not to violate a HIPPA issue?

Jules A, MSN

8,863 Posts

Specializes in Family Nurse Practitioner.

Why don't you just make a phone call as a private citizen next time you see him at his house?


neneRN, BSN, RN

642 Posts

Specializes in Emergency, Trauma. Has 8 years experience.

General rules for HIPAA:

Do you need to disclose/access this info to do your job? NO!

Is it in the best interest of the patient? NO!

Why don't you do as the previous poster suggested and make a call when you see your neighbor is at home?

Specializes in Med Surg, Ortho.

From what I interpreted from the OP, they can't catch him outside his house. So if she were to see him at home, by the time she called police, he'd be back in the house and he probably won't answer the door.

ktwlpn, LPN

3,844 Posts

Specializes in LTC,Hospice/palliative care,acute care. Has 35 years experience.

Unless you know that his crimes involve sexual abuse I think you should stay out of it. It's up to the cops...


2,228 Posts

Why would mentioning outstanding warrants to the cop be a hippa violation? That has nothing to do with violating health information.

Specializes in Medsurg/ICU, Mental Health, Home Health. Has 17 years experience.

i'm concerned about you, actually. i don't know why this is so he dangerous? i've had patients who were most likely wanted by law enforcement, but my job is to care for them, which includes respecting their rights. i doubt you'd want to be turned in when you are seeking medical care. if we start doing this, then people might not be compliant with follow ups or might avoid health care at all costs.



2,228 Posts

What if he is dangerous?

What if there were an armed robber, or a cop killer or a serial rapist or a serial murderer out there, his name and picture have been on the news, he comes in to the ER after a mvc, are you going to treat and street because you don't want to violate hippa or because he might not come back for health care?

leslie :-D

11,191 Posts

it's all going to depend on the nature of his crimes.

if he's a danger, yes, give the cop a heads up...

simple as, "you may want to check this guy out".

but if the crimes do not involve the safety of others, i'd stay out of it...

i think.


TopazLover, BSN, RN

8 Articles; 728 Posts

I don't work ER, but in our state I believe any MVA is reportable to the police. The idea is that if the accident is serious enough to require med eval there should be a police report on file.

Not so for you?:eek:


290 Posts

I don't see how it would violate HIPAA if you notified the officer in your ER about his warrants. You might want to make sure he really does have warrants so your credibility doesn't suffer in case he doesn't. :imbar

If he is wanted for ANY criminal violations, you can bet he is dangerous. It's just a matter of time before he gets around to violating the law against YOU.

rn/writer, RN

17 Articles; 4,168 Posts

I'm a little taken aback by the title of your thread. "Dodging" HIPAA is not something that you should even be willing to consider. If you had asked if informing a police officer was a HIPAA violation, that would be one thing. But talking about dodging HIPAA makes it sound as if you know this could well be wrong and you just want to find a loophole.

As for the HIPAA issue itself, I'm not sure an officer can run someone "just because." I could be wrong, but I think there has to be a valid reason to check a person's status. If that's the case, the finger would point back to you as the initiator of the request.

I can appreciate your desire to see this person taken into custody, but bringing him to justice isn't in your job description and may, in fact, put that very job in jeopardy.

Please, find another way to deal with this person.

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