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Thread: Potential HIPAA violation. Will I be terminated?

  1. #1
    melesley is offline Junior Member
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    Potential HIPAA violation. Will I be terminated?

    Connecticut.

    Hi, a couple of days ago I posted on facebook that I met a boy with a certain health condition and how he and his family were dealing with it. I didn't mention any name, age, where I met him, where they are from or anything like that. I got a call from our director saying that we need to talk asap about a potential Hipaa violation because he situation I described is similar to that of a patient I had taken care of. Will I get fired If I admit to anything? They cannot prove that I was talking about that patient. Can I just say that I met someone with a similar situation somewhere else? I need some advice ASAP.Thanks
  2. #2
    cbg
    cbg is offline Senior Member
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    The crystal ball is out being recalibrated; the Magic 8 ball is in for repairs; and Madame Zuileka has not returned from her vacation. So we cannot tell you what your employer will do.

    What we can tell you is that they do not need to prove squat, and if they do fire you, it will be a legal firing which will stand up under the law. They can fire you on suspicion of wrongdoing - they are not a court of law and don't need to prove anything at all. Google, at-will employment.
    CSO286 and bgdonk1 like this.
    Two things I am tired of typing: 1.) A wrongful termination does not mean that you were fired for something you didn't do; it means that you were fired for a reason prohibited by law. 2.) The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding contract or CBA expressly says otherwise. If it does, the terms of the contract apply.
  3. #3
    RedemptionMan is offline Member
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    really cbg, that post was nonsense.

    I was in the healthcare field for a couple of years training for a new career when I came to my senses and decided to use my current degree(s) in my field that I have been successful with. Having experience with directors and hospital administration, I have seen doctors and nurses fired for just reading charts about famous patients and have seen more serious measures taken for individuals who posted information about patients. You could be fined and it could be a large one and you could also be blackballed and never be able to find another job in your field ever again. This is one of the reasons I refuse to get Facebook, employers and people comb through those things just looking for stuff. If I was you I would delete it as soon as possible and hope they did not print or get a hard copy of what you posted. I suspect you will be terminated but I would not sign anything or refuse to really discuss anything to the administration person and if you have a lawyer someone you trust then I would consult them about how to approach it.

    These laws are very strict and the violations very serious. Good luck with it.
  4. #4
    melesley is offline Junior Member
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    Thanks, guys. What if I indeed was talking about somebody else who is not a patient (say a friend) but it so happened that the cases are similar?
  5. #5
    Isis1 is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by RedemptionMan View Post
    really cbg, that post was nonsense.

    I was in the healthcare field for a couple of years training for a new career when I came to my senses and decided to use my current degree(s) in my field that I have been successful with. Having experience with directors and hospital administration, I have seen doctors and nurses fired for just reading charts about famous patients and have seen more serious measures taken for individuals who posted information about patients. You could be fined and it could be a large one and you could also be blackballed and never be able to find another job in your field ever again. This is one of the reasons I refuse to get Facebook, employers and people comb through those things just looking for stuff. If I was you I would delete it as soon as possible and hope they did not print or get a hard copy of what you posted. I suspect you will be terminated but I would not sign anything or refuse to really discuss anything to the administration person and if you have a lawyer someone you trust then I would consult them about how to approach it.

    These laws are very strict and the violations very serious. Good luck with it.
    i would like you to explain how CBG's post was nonsense? what part of her post was untrue?
    bgdonk1 likes this.
  6. #6
    Isis1 is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by melesley View Post
    Thanks, guys. What if I indeed was talking about somebody else who is not a patient (say a friend) but it so happened that the cases are similar?
    in all honesty, no one here with any integrity will tell you to lie. what you chose to tell them, is on you. it is not their obligation to believe one word of it.
  7. #7
    RedemptionMan is offline Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by melesley View Post
    Thanks, guys. What if I indeed was talking about somebody else who is not a patient (say a friend) but it so happened that the cases are similar?
    then you run the risk of getting caught up in a lie, and those are never easy to undue. One becomes another and another and soon they will find out the truth. Do what you want but I would not make up a story to cover the actual story because I would believe that they have the actual events and have an idea about it before they approach you. It does not have to do really with you more the legal obligations of the hospital in patient confidentiality, I never had an issue with HIPAA, I knew what I signed and I knew what my obligations to my school, the hospitals I worked in and the people I reported to. You are in a bad situation, if it was me I would contact my attorney and ask them what to do.
  8. #8
    melesley is offline Junior Member
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    I am just wondering whether the fact that I admit directly will give them no other technical choice but fire me, whereas if its a uncertain situation, there are other less sever punishments. I feel very bad for what happened. I thought that since I was not being specific it was not a violation but then from what I read on other forums it looks like it is. I am also a nursin student and I was wondering whether I should just quit the field completely in case I get fired. I would really love to be a nurse one day and I will do everything in my power to not be fired but what will be, will be. I deleted my Facebook profile already. In general, is there ANY chance of not gettin fired?
  9. #9
    ecmst12 is offline Senior Member
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    If you work in patient care you should DARN well know better than to post ANYTHING about what happens at work on Facebook. Really, you may not be fired, but you should expect to be.
    sandyclaus, csi7, CSO286 and 1 others like this.
  10. #10
    cbg
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    What is nonsense is expecting a message board to be able to know what an unknown employer is going to do. The poster did not ask what the employer might do or could do - she asked what the employer will do. And that, my friend, is the only nonsense in this thread.
    Silverplum and Isis1 like this.
    Two things I am tired of typing: 1.) A wrongful termination does not mean that you were fired for something you didn't do; it means that you were fired for a reason prohibited by law. 2.) The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding contract or CBA expressly says otherwise. If it does, the terms of the contract apply.
  11. #11
    RedemptionMan is offline Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by cbg View Post
    What is nonsense is expecting a message board to be able to know what an unknown employer is going to do. The poster did not ask what the employer might do or could do - she asked what the employer will do. And that, my friend, is the only nonsense in this thread.
    If you do not know then do not reply, Do you even know what HIPAA is? you made some conversation to fortune telling and at will employment. This person is looking for advice not someone to tell them "oh lawd, your screwed" better get your at will self prepared for termination. The patients are the ones who would have to be offended and bring law suit against the Hospital not you, there are so many rules and regulations that when it comes to healthcare it is really a gray area. So much so that the uninsured, the ones with ZERO insurance actually get better care and stay in better hospitals thanks to your federal grant money going to research University hospitals who bleed money every year, than do most Americans who get some sort of company sponsored programs. At that point, it is take their Social Security checks and most all people have no money these days so they are hoping to catch a major hospital in these type of violations cause they can make hundreds of thousands of dollars if not more. They could care less about the nurse and their 50-70 grand a year, and I have known and heard stories of several nurses who lost their careers from 2-3 violations and the administration just loves it since there are not many careers in America today that pay that well. Again, even if you are student I would try to find out if the administration people are the only ones who know about it and who is actually leading the investigation. Then I would contact my attorney and deny and hide until all the burden of proof is on them. That is of course if you want to keep your nursing career together and not go into another field. Good luck with it but the least you say the better off you are.
    Last edited by RedemptionMan; 04-14-2013 at 11:05 PM.
  12. #12
    Proserpina is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by RedemptionMan View Post
    If you do not know then do not reply, Do you even know what HIPAA is?

    You're kidding, right?
  13. #13
    ecmst12 is offline Senior Member
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    Posting non identifying information might not be a clear HIPAA violation. It is, however, still rabidly unprofessional and assuredly against company policy, which means firing is far from out of the question. And that's regardless of whether OP admits it or not - clearly, the boss is not a total idiot.
    bgdonk1 likes this.
  14. #14
    swalsh411 is offline Senior Member
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    It doesn't matter if it's a violation or not; the OP can be fired for it. OP could be fired for posting on facebook that she saw a lady at the mall with ugly shoes.

    If fired, filed for unemployment. Do NOT quit.
  15. #15
    commentator is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by RedemptionMan View Post
    If you do not know then do not reply, Do you even know what HIPAA is? you made some conversation to fortune telling and at will employment. This person is looking for advice not someone to tell them "oh lawd, your screwed" better get your at will self prepared for termination. The patients are the ones who would have to be offended and bring law suit against the Hospital not you, there are so many rules and regulations that when it comes to healthcare it is really a gray area. So much so that the uninsured, the ones with ZERO insurance actually get better care and stay in better hospitals thanks to your federal grant money going to research University hospitals who bleed money every year, than do most Americans who get some sort of company sponsored programs. At that point, it is take their Social Security checks and most all people have no money these days so they are hoping to catch a major hospital in these type of violations cause they can make hundreds of thousands of dollars if not more. They could care less about the nurse and their 50-70 grand a year, and I have known and heard stories of several nurses who lost their careers from 2-3 violations and the administration just loves it since there are not many careers in America today that pay that well. Again, even if you are student I would try to find out if the administration people are the only ones who know about it and who is actually leading the investigation. Then I would contact my attorney and deny and hide until all the burden of proof is on them. That is of course if you want to keep your nursing career together and not go into another field. Good luck with it but the least you say the better off you are.
    Speaking of nonsense! The poster says "Will I be fired?" and the response is, we don't know, no one can predict this, but if they do decide to fire you, they certainly can, due to at-will employment. Uh, yes, I'd say cbg has "even heard of HIPAA" a time or two. This whole employment issue has very little to do with whether or not the patient's family is going to sue the hospital because they "care nothing for the nurses" or "people with zero insurance get better care" or some such garbage as that.

    The employer may have just been looking for an excuse to fire this particular employee, and may use this as an excuse, whether or not they are being sued by the patient or family, or whether or not there was an actual documented incident of HIPAA violation. There is no mention that this is happening. The poster wants to know if she can be fired for the alleged violation, and the answer is oh yes, she can.

    All this mess you post about how the patient would have to sue the hospital (....before the OP could be fired? I think not!) and you'd contact your attorney (which you apparently have on retainer) and "find out if the administration is in on this and who is leading the investigation...." blah blah blah. What are you going to do that for? You won't have any legal reason to go after them, even if you do go to all the time and trouble and mess of hiring an attorney to tell you this. And no, it may not totally destroy the poster's health care career. Based on the proof they have of actual wrongdoing, or lack of it, the poster may be able to get approved for unemployment insurance, but otherwise, that's about it.
    Last edited by commentator; 04-15-2013 at 08:47 AM.
    Silverplum likes this.

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