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Could an RN who was in the ED with chest pain at the facility where she works get in trouble for asking a colleague to look up her lab work?

Question:

Dear Nancy,

I was in the ED at the hospital where I work because I was having chest pain. While i was waiting, I called one of the RNs on my floor and asked her to look up my lab work. She did and she reported the results to me. In the meantime, everyone on my floor was concerned about me. Our new clerk took it upon himself to look up my information and announced the name of my doctor to several witnesses at the desk. I would like to report him for a HIPAA violation. I want to know if I and the RN who originally looked up my information would be in trouble if I report the clerk.

Lillee

Dear Nancy replies:

Dear Lillee:

The situation you describe in your question really got out of hand, both legally and ethically. Any information in your medical record is your information and you have a right to know what it is. However, to ask one of your colleagues — someone who is not caring for you as a patient and is on an entirely different unit — to look information up for you creates a problem for you and that nurse.

Not only is HIPAA potentially a problem for your nurse colleague but it also is a breach of your facility’s policy about access to information about a patient she was not treating. Your judgment and your integrity in asking her to check your record will most likely be a problem for you and will be evaluated under the facility’s employee conduct policy.

As for the new clerk, he, too, had a slip in judgment and therefore has potential problems with HIPAA and your facility’s policies.

You might want to seek an opinion from a nurse attorney or other attorney in your state who can specifically advise you about this chain of events before you decide how you want to proceed. One option, of course, is to simply learn from your mistake in asking another to provide you with information you could obtain, and have a right to get, from healthcare professional who is treating you.

Cordially,
Nancy

By | 2015-02-06T00:00:00-05:00 February 6th, 2015|Categories: Blogs, Nursing careers and jobs|0 Comments

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