Help! I was just hired by a hospital as a new grad. Today, the HR folks handed me an employee health form to fill out and it asks some pretty invasive questions (for example: have you ever been hospitalized and why? list all surgeries you have ever had...what medications are you currently taking? have you ever missed work due to back pain? list any illnesses you have had in the past year). My personal favorite question, though, is "do you have any physical defects?"
I certainly understand the reasons behind the questions. However, I know that these questions cannot be asked in an pre-employment interview. Now that they've reeled me in, do I have to disclose this highly private information? And, if not, how should I gracefully decline their questions (there is also an in-person health interview)?
I must add that I have a contractual obligation (due to tuition reimbursement) to work at this hospital, so I can't just try to go somewhere else.
Please help! The health history interview is tomorrow morning! Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
Sep 26, '06
I know what you mean. The questions are pretty invasive. I may have forgot one or two things on mine....
Sep 26, '06
If you have been hired, this is no longer a pre-employment issue.
They can ask anything they want. You don't have to answer. I have left personal questions blank on employee health forms, and have never been questioned about it. I doubt it would be an issue unless the person doing your employee physical states that the lack of information hinders their ability to clear you for work.
Sep 26, '06
Your employer needs your health information to screen you for any risk factors that might prevent you from being able to do your job and/or put you at greater risk for injury on the job. It's perfectly legal to ask such questions as part of their health screening.
I'm not sure what they can do if you refuse to answer the questions, but they can probably refuse to let you work until you can assure them that it would be safe (for both you and them) to let you work. If there is something you don't want to disclose (e.g. if you have something to hide), you might try leaving it blank and hoping they let it go without insisting on an answer. But be prepared to answer if they ask about it. Leaving something blank is also risky because it suggests you have something to hide and are trying to sneak through. That makes you look really bad -- probably worse than whatever it is you would rather not tell them.
Whatever you do, don't lie about anything. Whenever you are caught in a lie, it is usually grounds for automatic termination regardless of the seriousness of the lie. Once they realize that you can't be trusted to tell the truth, they don't want you working for them.
When you look at them, they are all pretty reasonable questions. For example, they want to know about any back problems in order to ascertain whether you can be assigned tasks that involve lifting or moving things. They want to know if you have any physical defects, such as a hearing impairment that might require special accommodations, etc.
Last edit by llg on Sep 26, '06
Sep 26, '06
Well, thank you everyone for the good advice. I decided to just answer the questions and I did get grilled on one prescription in particular. But, it's over now and I am ready to move on. I understand the hospital's reasons for the questions, but I also have a better understanding of how much I value my privacy, too!
Sep 27, '06
I have a major concern regarding the privacy of medical information stored by the places one works. HIPPA "Schnippa"- the documents/records can be quite available. For example, the nursing supervisor at a nursing home may go into the health records of employees. Legal?? Probably not, but done all the time. Mind you, I am not advocating "omissions"-just that I am aware of how open records of employees can be at some places.
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