Confidentiality Violation in the workplace r/t Mental Illness

  1. Hi All, I am not sure if this is the right area to post but here it goes. Two months ago at my new job my immediate supervisor shared private mental health information about another employee/co-worker. I was in fear of losing my job and did not report the incident. However, it weighs heavily on my mind since I also suffer from a mental health condition. Is it too late to report the incident? If not, who do I report it to other than my place of employment? I have searched online but there is so much information out there and I want to do the right thing.

    Any info is greatly appreciated. Thanks!
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    About PNWRN

    Joined: Sep '08; Posts: 4


  3. by   JustBeachyNurse
    Thread moved to nurse colleague/patient relations forum to elicit further response. One question would be is if it is imperative that another staff member know about the condition? That would change the rules. (of course I can't think of an example now...aside from suicidal/homicidal ideation, potential medication adverse effects, a condition such as PTSD due to work trauma--i.e don't assign nurse X chest trauma patients right now, she's having a difficult time due to X.) and whether it was done in the open (announcing to the break room) or in confidence (that you happened to over hear).

    And it would NOT be a HIPAA violation unless the supervisor was providing treatment to the coworker and billing insurance for the services (for example if the coworker was a patient of the facility and that is how the supervisor found out about the condition, or if the supervisor also provides counseling services and the coworker was a client). Employee-supervisor is not covered by HIPAA unless there is a provider-patient relationship.

    Some HIPAA resources: Health Information Privacy

    It would be a potential confidentiality, ADA, Section 504, privacy violation but not HIPAA. This is like an issue to be discussed with human resources, but then again it should be discussed by the person affected directly (i.e. the patient/coworker), assuming s/he is aware of the discussion of their confidental information.
    Last edit by JustBeachyNurse on Oct 21, '12
  4. by   Esme12
    But there is confidentiality issue with privileged knowledge of the employer and employee rights to privacy.

    I say call your corporate compliance officer/HR or your manager and discuss your concerns. We cannot offer legal advice here as per the Terms of Service but another resource for employee rights would be the EEOC.

    EEOC Home Page
  5. by   PNWRN
    Thanks for the responses. I was a new employee on orientation and my co-worker's mental health information did not affect patient care, but she did leave us in a crunch being short staffed. Perhaps, my supervisor felt that was a good reason to explain. From what I understand this has happened before and I am glad I am no longer working there.

    Sadly, my experience there was so bad that I have no desire to continue nursing. What can someone do with a nursing degree and a mental illness?