True or False? HIPAA’s goal is to catch staff sharing patients’ health information with those who do not need the information.
FALSE! The goal of HIPAA is to protect confidential patient information from improper use or disclosure. We want to prevent it before it happens.
True or False? One of the privileges of working in health care is that we have access to our family and friends’ health information so we can find out when they have an illness.
FALSE! We do not have a right to access anyone’s health information including family members unless it is directly needed for the completion of our job responsibilities for a patient. If you accidentally see patient information that is not directly needed for you to perform your job, you cannot share that information with anyone else.
TRUE OR FALSE: Dr. Williams and Sue violated the patient’s privacy by turning the screen and viewing the lab results? Dr. Williams asks Sue, a nurse, to bring up his patient’s lab results on the computer screen. Dr. Williams looks around and does not see any other staff or visitors in the area. He asks Sue to turn the monitor so he can see the chart. There is no other person around the desk when the screen is turned towards him. When Dr. Williams is finished, Sue turns the screen back around facing away from public view.
FALSE! They took the time to examine their surroundings and made certain that no unauthorized individuals were near. Turning the screen and then returning it to a secure position is an acceptable practice. If visitors or others were present, the doctor would need to go behind the desk and view the screen.
True or False? Leaving the chart open on the desk when the nurse leaves the area is OK because she will be right back and trying to find her place would take too much time. Julie is a nurse entering notes into a patient chart at the nurse’s station where visitors come to ask questions. Jeff, another nurse, steps out of a patient’s room and asks Julie for help. Julie leaves the chart open on the desk, then goes to assist Jeff in the patient’s room.
FALSE! The best way to maintain patient confidentiality is to never leave records unattended in public places. Closing the chart is a good first step. In a non- emergency situation, return the chart to its designated location before leaving the area. In an emergency situation, secure the chart using your professional judgment, then proceed to assist with the emergency.
True or False: Are they are violating the patient’s privacy in this situation? Jennifer, a nurse, and Tom, a physical therapist, are eating lunch together in the cafeteria. They begin discussing a patient that they are both treating. The cafeteria is crowded and others around them can hear them referring to the patient’s name and other confidential information.
TRUE! Never discuss a patient’s health information in areas where there are others that don’t need to know about it. If you need to discuss a patient’s care with a co-worker, speak softly in an area away from the public.
True or False? The doctor violated the patient’s privacy by talking about the test results with the daughter present in the room. An adult daughter of an elderly patient is present in the room when his doctor enters to speak with the patient about test results. The patient introduces his daughter to the doctor, and then asks the doctor if the test results are back. The doctor begins to explain the results to the patient.
FALSE! Since the patient asked about the results with his daughter in the room, the doctor can assume that it is appropriate to share the results at that time.
True or False? The x-ray technologist violated the patient’s privacy by calling out her name and test to be performed. In a Radiology waiting room, an x-ray technologist calls the next patient by name saying “Jane Smith, we are ready for your to get your sonogram now.”
TRUE! Employees in doctor’s offices and waiting rooms are allowed to publicly call a patient’s name. However, care should be taken to limit any other information communicated. The x-ray technologist should not have mentioned the test to be performed. Stating that the patient is having a sonogram is unacceptable. “Jane Smith, we are ready for you now.” is acceptable.