Inform your chain of command that HIPPA does not apply to every health care information situation in the world. It specifically does not apply to the following: Work Place Exposures, Injuries, Hazardous Material Incidents regulated under the community right to know act (SARA, Title II), and those rights covered under the Federal Whistle Blower Rights Acts. I could list a whole page of what HIPPA does not cover and the liability the average nurse has for preventing care by wrongly using HIPPA.
I did do a little research on the following statements: "90% of all nurses have colonized MRSA in their noses". "40 percent of the population are carriers of MRSA, no big deal" Because you specifically mentioned the Center's for Disease Control I went to their website and drilled own in their publications and discovered that what they define a community carrier as is: "Community acquisition was associated with recent hospitalization, previous antibiotic therapy, nursing home residence, and intravenous drug use." 1: Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol. 1995 Jan;16(1):12-7. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_uids=7897168&dopt=Abstract
Please note this is a ten year old definition. I cannot find any prospective studies of healthy nurses or of general population of MRSA rates. So the first two statements are not supported at this time.
So what would I do to cover myself professionally and medically?
1. Throw the HIPPA crap back in your manager's face in a professional manner.
2. Another mechanism to move around the HIPPA and notification issues is to give your employer a written release and instruct the employer to notify my co-workers that I have an infectious disease and I want my co-workers notified in order to seek preventive and/or treatment ASAP. I would ask your co-worker who is sick to do this. This will begin to get both of you off of the HIPPA block. Do not rely on your employer to send out the letters you may want to send your own out to your co-workers.
3. File worker's compensation due to exposure of an occupational infectious disease. The cost of the medical surveillance should be covered by your employer. Medical surveillance should have begun before your placement, during and after.
I would be interested in hearing how your employer reacts when you point out this is outside of HIPPA.