Possible HIPAA issue?

Posted
by FullGlass FullGlass, BSN, MSN, NP Member Nurse

Specializes in Adult and Geriatric Primary Care. Has 4 years experience.

Hello, I work for a large psychiatry practice via telehealth.  After each appointment, I send my M.A. an email with instructions for when to set the next appointment, labs, etc.  As a backup, her manager is also copied on this email.  This seems reasonable.  In the past, we had issues with M.A.'s not performing these tasks, so the practice owner (MD) wanted to be copied on every such email.  This week, his wife, who is an office manager? (not sure, as we were told last year she was not going to work in office anymore), sent an email demanding she be copied on all such emails.  So, now an email for every patient is sent to my M.A., supervisor, MD's wife, MD.  That's 4 people!  This concerns me as a possible HIPAA violation.  While practice staff can share patient information in order to provide care, I don't think this means that we can email the entire office (one extreme).  I have ignored the request to send copy to the MD's wife.  

Any thoughts, advice, etc., welcome.

LibraSunCNM, MSN

Specializes in OB. Has 10 years experience. 1,600 Posts

How exactly are you emailing the coworkers?  Through a work email account that's encrypted/privacy-protected in any way?  Is there a way you can send messages to everyone through the client's chart in your EMR to avoid separate emails?  The MD's wife is a whole separate issue--she doesn't even have a clear role at the office but needs to know every patient's next appointment info?  Seems superfluous and weird.

FullGlass

FullGlass, BSN, MSN, NP

Specializes in Adult and Geriatric Primary Care. Has 4 years experience. 2 Articles; 1,403 Posts

20 hours ago, LibraSunCNM said:

How exactly are you emailing the coworkers?  

Through Microsoft Outlook.  The EMR isn't great, so there is no way to send messages through that.  

The wife thing is weird, so I'm just ignoring that and see what happens.  I'm also going to consult with the state NP association for legal advice.  The wife just seems to want to nag people and it really annoys me; does not add any value.

LibraSunCNM, MSN

Specializes in OB. Has 10 years experience. 1,600 Posts

54 minutes ago, FullGlass said:

The wife just seems to want to nag people and it really annoys me; does not add any value.

I feel like that is not uncommon--a doctor's spouse getting involved in the practice even though they have no real role there.  I've never worked in a small private practice like that so I have no experience with it, but I agree ignoring her seems like the best course of action!

In terms of the HIPAA concerns, the current setup isn't ideal.  Hope you get some help from your state NP org.

Tegridy

Tegridy

Specializes in Former NP now Internal medicine PGY-2. 370 Posts

Email has to be encrypted but if the question is the wife unit asking for info it can be a violation if she not work for the company. Does she?

FullGlass

FullGlass, BSN, MSN, NP

Specializes in Adult and Geriatric Primary Care. Has 4 years experience. 2 Articles; 1,403 Posts

2 hours ago, Tegridy said:

Email has to be encrypted but if the question is the wife unit asking for info it can be a violation if she not work for the company. Does she?

I just messaged the doctor that owns the practice if she has, indeed, returned to work.  I also asked him to clarify her role if she is working again for the practice.

Tegridy

Tegridy

Specializes in Former NP now Internal medicine PGY-2. 370 Posts

Im assuming she has or shes just weird and really nosy LOL. but then again people are strange so all bets are off.