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Relatives/friends/whoever call the operator and get transferred to the unit...what do I say?

HIPAA   (150 Views | 2 Replies)
by bella14b bella14b (New) New Nurse Student

bella14b has 6 years experience and specializes in Cardiac/med-surge nurse.

5 Profile Views; 1 Post

I often times am aware of the patient's HCP or POA. Often times I will get a call through the operator and the person calling is some random person who's not a POA or HCP. I will lie and say something along the lines of "Can you hold while we have a patient by that name?", to which they'll reply, "sure", or "Well the operator transferred me here because he confirmed the patient was on this unit-can I talk to him?". I say, "Well let me check to confirm, like I said, I do not konw this patient, but I will check for you". So meanwhile, I ask the callers info (name/relationship), walk to the room and ask the patient if it's okay to talk to this person. They usually say 'yes'. But if they say 'no', should I ask the pt if they would rather make their name private? In other words, someone unwanted who is calling should be told that the patient isn't there? But then I run into the problem of the caller telling me that the operator transferred him/her for a reason, and theY know their patient is on the unit.

 

There needs to be a protocol or something, nurses and unit clerks are handling these situations differently, and there needs to be a universal way to handle this to avoid a breach in confidentiality.

Does anyone have a method of dealing with these people, or a protocol? Our protocol is vague, and it doesn't tell anyone anything abotu how to actually deal with the situation when these people are on the phone, waiting for answers. Usually I'm just very blunt and say that I cannot give out that information at this time. If you are on the primary contact list, the physician will call you with an update. Otherwise, Marie is doing well and has even eaten her breakfast". I don't divulge more than that. But I feel like whatever I'm doing, or whatever the operator/front desk/security is doing has lead to quite a few things to fall through the cracks, and god-forbid it comes back to haunt me, and you guys. I feel rude dismissing them off the phone, but it's either I do that or I lose my job.

 

Please advice.

Thank you

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Rose_Queen has 15 years experience as a BSN, MSN, RN and specializes in OR, education.

12 Followers; 4 Articles; 9,452 Posts; 109,877 Profile Views

Patients have the opportunity to opt out of the hospital directory. It is not against HIPAA to acknowledge a patient’s presence in the facility unless they have opted out. A simple way to answer is “The patient has requested we not share information. I cannot provide you with an update.” I would expect that in the vast majority of facilities, the patient’s directory or opt out is displayed to the operator. It is in mine, and if the patient is private (opted out), the operator will tell them they have no one by that name listed. 

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TriciaJ has 39 years experience as a RN and specializes in Psych, Corrections, Med-Surg, Ambulatory.

14 Followers; 3,775 Posts; 40,505 Profile Views

If the patient has not opted out of the hospital directory then the call should be put through directly to the patient's room.

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