Privacy Issue: Would Appreciate Your Input!

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I work as a support staff (not a nurse) in a medical facility. Recently, I was offering supportive listening to a family member of a patient who was quite upset about their loved one's situation. The conversation moved to an area where family members of other patients were sitting and could certainly hear what the family member was saying, and the family member spoke at length and in detail about that patient's condition, care, etc. Not long into the conversation, I asked the family member, thinking of the privacy issue, "would you like to go and talk somewhere more private?" But they said, no, they were just fine talking there. As we spoke, I didn't mention the name of patient, room number, and what I said was mostly empathic listening, encouragement, validation (and I tried to speak softly, to encourage the family member to do the same). I realize that next time, I will graciously steer such a discussion to a private place. But for now, I wonder: was HIPAA violated if it was the family member (who is also the POA), speaking in such a manner? Thank you. 

Midwestgal1

Midwestgal1

20 Posts

49 minutes ago, Midwestgal1 said:

"family member of a patient who was quite upset about their loved one's situation" ~ Sorry, to be clear, they weren't angry or disgruntled, they just needed to talk to someone about the emotions related to their loved one's condition.

 

LovingLife123

LovingLife123

1,571 Posts

You need a clear understanding of what HIPAA actually is.  HIPAA has zero to do with a family member loudly talking about their loved one.

It has to do with healthcare workers discussing and accessing patient information.

A POA is not a healthcare worker.  
 

Midwestgal1

Midwestgal1

20 Posts

thanks, I was wondering if my being with the family member (as a supportive staff member) while they spoke, and my listening and reflecting with them on the situation about the patient (while those other visitors likely heard) makes me in violation of HIPAA. 

JKL33

6,328 Posts

You're good.

And it's good that you are cognizant of and careful about privacy issues.

I agree this is not a HIPAA violation. However I would generally take these conversations elsewhere regardless of the speaker's comfort because I think appearances can be important, too, even though nothing is being violated. Other patients/family members who may be in the area don't need to get the idea that sensitive conversations are often conducted randomly within others' earshot.

Midwestgal1

Midwestgal1

20 Posts

Exactly! Thank you :). 

Leader25, ASN, BSN, RN

Specializes in NICU. Has 39 years experience. 1,295 Posts

On 9/16/2022 at 9:53 PM, Midwestgal1 said:

hile they spoke, and my listening and reflecting with them on the situation about the patient (while those other visitors likely heard) makes me in violation of HIPAA. 

Avoid the elevator.