RE: Schiavo's nurse and HIPPA laws and abuse reporting laws

  1. I thought nurses were supposed to report any abuse or potential abuse of patients, especially children, elderly or handicapped patients, and that as long as the nurse reported the information in good faith, (ie not maliciously harm the person being reported) they were protected.

    Today on the news, a nurse who had taken care of Terri Schiavo claims to have been fired the day after she reported to authorities some suspicious activity by pts husband. If true, this seems kinda scarey as any of us who are required to report abuse could then loose our jobs for doing so.

    This is the affidavit by an LPN (now RN) who took care of Terri:

    This is the affidavit by a nursing assistant who took care of Terri:

    After reading these documents and seeing the interview of the RN on national news programs, I am curious now, if the new Hippa law could/will be used to prosecute this nurse (or ANY nurse in a similar situation)

    She has now gone on public record and discussed this patients medical information and interactions that she witnessed when she was an employee of a health care facility. I realize that her affidavit is a document required by the legal system, and would probably not get her into trouble, but her appearance on the news programs is what I am wondering about.

    Any thoughts on this subject...?
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    About ladybyrd

    Joined: Jun '01; Posts: 15


  3. by   danu3
    What we need is a nurse attorney here.

    Does HIPPA and the law that require health care providers to report abuse cases work together or they are in conflict?

  4. by   ScarlettRN
    The thing was reported to the police at the time and it was found to not be a result of needle punctures but from the device used to transfer her from bed to chair. No legal action was taken at the time based on the findings of police. The fact that it is being aired now is just attempting to toss gas on an already raging fire.
  5. by   ladybyrd
    Again, my question was not necessarily to discuss the current situation with Terri Schiavo, but rather to ask the bigger questions facing nurses who report potential abuse.

    Would discussing the things in the news that they were required by law to report then open them up to legal recourse due to the newly enacted HIPPA laws?

    Whistleblowing is usually a "thankless" endevor...even if you are right! The harrassment by those who are trying to keep "whatever-the-information" from coming to light can be devastating to the reporting persons mental, emotional state and financial resources.

    Then to have to further worry that you may be prosecuted for revealing information now covered by the new HIPPA laws may mean that honest people have a real delema when making a decision to whistle-blow or just to keep quiet...and let the "other" person put their neck in the noose first!
  6. by   Kabin
    I didn't read all of the statement, but from what I did read it looks like the RN was unwilling to follow Michael Shiavo's wishes. Since his wishes are legally the same as Terri's, the nurse isn't following the patient's wishes.
  7. by   Roy Fokker
    I also like how the Wolfson Report mentions the fact that in 13 years of revieving care, Terri never suffered a single bedsore.
  8. by   pickledpepperRN
    I am NOT an attorney. I did take a class from an RN, JD who said it is NOT a HIPAA violation to report to a regulatory agency. JCAHO is a 'gray area' because it is not part of the Federal, State, or other government.

    Hospitals do wrongly terminate those who report suspected violations or abuse. I California we have a whistle blower law which puts on the employer the burden of proving the discipline or termination was not for reporting.

    I don't know about other states. What a catch 22!
  9. by   UnewmeB4
    HIPPA is about pt confidentiality. That means, it you are not allowed to talk about any pts condition not approved by the pt. If pt is is a minor, or, incompacitated, you could only discuss with the POA. That is why we are no longer able to give info over the phone. You never know who is on the other end. Reporting abuse does not fall under this law. However, it does NOT give the nurse the right to talk to the public. That is why we have courts.
  10. by   hollyster
    You are compelled by law to report suspected abuse or if a pt threatens to harm theirself or anyone else. HIPPA does not infringe on reporting abuse or threats to the proper authorities. Talking to the press, even in a highly publicized case, is wrong both legally and morally.
  11. by   Spidey's mom
    H I P A A

    Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.

    I think there needs to be room for whistleblower protection . . I'm not sure about the legality of any of this.

    We really do need an expert.

  12. by   Tweety
    Quote from stevielynn
    H I P A A

    Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.

    I think there needs to be room for whistleblower protection . . I'm not sure about the legality of any of this.

    We really do need an expert.

    I don't have a problem with whistle blowing. These nurses reported their findings already to the authorities.........years ago. They have no business talking about on the news now, HIPPA violation or not. Just my opinion.
  13. by   CHATSDALE
    if she was fired for reporting unethical behavior by pts husband then she sould have gone through channels..all states have ways and means for nurses to report this type of thing the facility is not the last word on this...if they do not act to report they are also accountable
    however that does not give the nurse/cna etc the right to go on tv and identify the pt by name and spell out specifics..sounds like someone who wants the 15 minute not someone who is looking out for pt interests
  14. by   kjsLPN
    The nurse who went on t.v. discussing Mrs. Schiavo's health and treatments will probably be in deep water, unless Mr. Schiavo gave her permission, which is highly unlikely!