Can an RN lose his or her nursing license over a HIPAA violation?

By | 2022-02-11T11:09:45-05:00 September 18th, 2009|8 Comments

Question:

Dear Nancy,

Can an RN lose his or her nursing license over a HIPAA violation?

Paige

Nancy Brent replies:

Dear Paige:

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountabilty Act requires that all covered entities (including nurses, whether they work in a hospital or other healthcare setting) protect against unauthorized disclosure of a patient’s personally identifiable health information. This protection is mainly included in HIPAA’s Privacy Rule, although HIPAA’s Security Rule also requires that PHI stored or transmitted electronically be secure.

If PHI is released without the patient’s consent or authorization, a violation of HIPAA occurs, unless the release is included in one of the exceptions to the consent/authorization requirement (e.g., public health concern). If a healthcare provider provided information in violation of HIPAA, he or she would most likely be disciplined by the employer and may be reported to the state board of nursing. Most state nurse practice acts or their rules require that a nurse licensee maintain the privacy and confidentiality of patient information (unless required to release it due to some legal basis — a court order, for example). Because the nurse-patient relationship requires the nurse to maintain patient confidentiality and privacy, a violation of that obligation could result in discipline by the state board of nursing.

If you are in such a situation, it would be important for you to retain a nurse attorney or attorney in your state who works in the area of professional licensure/discipline. The attorney can represent you in this matter and help you defend yourself based on the specific facts of your situation.

Cordially,
Nancy

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8 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Sur April 1, 2016 at 5:48 am - Reply

    Can a nurse talking at a nurses station which is not enclosed to a resident family member be in violation of Hippa- we call Drs from the nurse station- people walk buy and may hear you talking to a family member?
    The majority of all resident conversations take place at the nurse station- is this a violation- you are either talking to a family member at nursing station – you are not talking about them and no one else?

  2. Avatar
    Rachel September 20, 2016 at 4:07 pm - Reply

    What are the cons for nurses for HIPPA violations?
    Such as: why is HIPPA bad for nurses or any other health personnel?

    • Sallie Jimenez
      Sallie Jimenez September 22, 2016 at 3:02 pm - Reply

      Hello Rachel,
      Here is a link to information on HIPAA rules that might be helpful in answering your question: http://www.hhs.gov/hipaa/for-professionals/index.html

      Thank you,
      The Nurse.com content team

      • Avatar
        Tammie September 4, 2020 at 11:08 pm - Reply

        I was working from home and my and I left my computer up and my male friend got on my computer and looked up his ex girlfriend information and when i called things off with him he called my job and reported me as if i had did it. I am in school for my RN right now I’m a LPN my job Terminated me and said the havr to report this the the board of nursing what should I do will i lose my License

  3. Avatar
    Kelly April 1, 2017 at 11:55 am - Reply

    What happens to a nurse that breaks the hippa law, what happens to her license?

  4. Avatar
    Denise June 23, 2018 at 10:33 pm - Reply

    I am a Hospice nurse and informed a death to a pt friend before wife was able to tell pt husband. The wife did know the pt had died, but had not yet informed other family members pt was dead. Can I be sued? Hospice company did terminate me

  5. Avatar
    Bita August 10, 2018 at 11:11 pm - Reply

    Hi ,

    I have emailed my patients report to a wrong person in our healthcare system by mistake. Instead of emailing it to on call I emailed the report to a wrong employee with the same first name.
    Is there any chance I lose my license ? Or patients to sue me ?
    I am so stressed .

  6. Avatar
    Susan Scheidt May 29, 2019 at 8:45 pm - Reply

    What happens if I answered a question asked by a patient’s mother regarding how that pt. Was doing?? This is from the nurse.

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