I'm a newer nurse (less than 2 years' experience). When I was in school, instructors would occasionally open up patients' charts for the purposes of education. I am wondering whether it is a violation to look at the charts of patients who are not assigned to you (or no longer assigned to you). For my own patients, I feel it is very beneficial for me to review consulted physicians' notes, see what has changed in the plan of care and why, and sometimes even to go further back and read the admission notes from the EC (how did the patient present and how did that influence decision-making, etc). If there is a patient on the unit whose case is unusual, is it okay to look at vital signs, read notes, and look at medications for the purpose of "putting it all together?" Is it okay, if you see that your patient from the other day has been transferred to the ICU, to look and see what happened, what s/s were observed and how action was taken? I know that even if intentions are good, and this information is used for nothing more than my own knowledge bank, it may still be viewed as a privacy violation because it is not something I "need to know." To clarify, I absolutely would not consider it okay to view charts of patients from other units who had not ever been assigned to me, or to look at charts of people I knew out of curiosity.Thoughts?