Is it a HIPAA violation to chart while you’re technically off the clock?

By | 2021-05-28T17:23:10-04:00 February 23rd, 2015|3 Comments


Dear Nancy,

Is it a HIPAA violation to chart while you’re technically off the clock? Many RNs clock off but do paperwork either after work time or before their shift starts. Would accessing records while you’re not technically on duty be a violation?


Dear Nancy replies:

Dear Reese,

A HIPAA Privacy Rule violation can occur when you access a patient’s record for whom you have no patient care responsibilities, regardless of whether you are on duty or off duty. If you are finishing documentation on a patient you cared for on a specific day because you did not finish that documentation before your shift ended, there is no Privacy Rule violation. Likewise, reviewing documentation in the record on your assigned patient before your shift starts in order to get up to speed prior to your shift, or to add documentation for the patient (following facility policy) charts before you begin to provide care for that patient would not be a Privacy
Rule violation.

Remember that the Privacy Rule allows for personal health information to be shared in order to meet its treatment operations. Clearly, documentation in the patient record is the “provision, coordination or management” of healthcare and related services by healthcare providers at your facility.

You can review a helpful summary of the Privacy Rule by going to:



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  1. Avatar
    mikey April 7, 2016 at 7:13 pm - Reply

    Thank you for that information. I just want to clarify:

    What if a nurse documents on a patient when they already clocked out? Kaiser managment have been telling their nurses that they can’t chart once they’ve clocked out due to HIPAA issue. Our union have also been telling their members the same.

  2. Avatar
    Angel June 11, 2017 at 8:48 pm - Reply

    It is not a HIPAA issue, it is just illegal to work after you have clocked out! Federal Law states that if your are forced (by being denied overtime) to clock out at a specific time, and still required to finish your work (or be written up), then the company is violating labor laws.

    On the other hand, if you are working past your time, because you had an incident, or a rough day, then overtime should be allotted, if not, then you should file a complaint.

    However, if this is happening all too often with many staff members, then the company needs to look at the work load given and hire more staff accordingly (based on acuity, census, etc). But, if it is just with one or two people, and often, then they need to look at that individual’s time management skills, or performance improvement needs.

  3. Avatar
    Danielle December 10, 2019 at 2:31 pm - Reply

    Is it Hippa issue if I record my patient care documentation to prove I did it to my DON at my phone ?

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