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Thread: HIPAA Violation

  1. #1
    wvbirdlover is offline Junior Member
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    HIPAA Violation

    What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)? WV
    I was treated in the ER recently and disclosed to the attending physican and nurse I was taking an ADHD drug without a prescription. I work in retail with the sister and niece of the nurse. I was discharged from the ER at shift change. I told no one about my ER visit. Within 3 hours of arriving home a friend of the sister called my parents (I am a 30yo btw) and told them I had overdosed on ADHD meds (not true) and that I was being fired! I immediately called my place of work to confirm this. In less than 6 hours word had spread to fellow employees and customers that I was addicted to ADHD meds and had overdosed! The niece of the nurse took it upon herself to post a full page notice on the bulletin board detailing my ER visit and what was "wrong with me". I was removed from the weekly schedule at first then was terminated the following week. At the meeting where I was terminated I was told repeatedly and constantly reassured this had nothing to do with my ER visit and that the nurse had not told her sister and niece anything about my ER visit. I sensed that they were in CYA mode. Should I retain an attorney? File a complaint with the hospital? Contact DHHS? Thank you for any advice you might have.
  2. #2
    ecmst12 is offline Senior Member
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    You can file a complaint with the hospital and/or the HIPAA board, but they will investigate and tell you nothing.

    You were breaking the law, so it's not like your hands are clean. You can talk to a lawyer about a lawsuit but it will cost you more money than you are ever likely to see, you can't prove that the disclosure alone led to your losing your job so you can't prove your damages.

    I would suggest you see a doctor for PROPER (legal) treatment of your ADHD if you have it, if you don't I would suggest you see a doctor for treatment of your drug abuse.
  3. #3
    commentator is offline Senior Member
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    "I immediately called my place of work to confirm this. In less than 6 hours word had spread to fellow employees and customers that I was addicted to ADHD meds and had overdosed!"

    Let's see. You heard, from someone calling your parents that they had heard that you were fired, so you called your place of work to confirm this. It seems that it would have been more prudent to wait until the actual employer told you something about your employment situation. So you did tell someone about your ER visit, you told your employer, right? It sounds to me like you were a lot more involved in your being fired than anyone else was.


    Even so, I still see unemployment insurance as being about your only recourse, you should file immediately if you haven't already done so. What happens in regard to any future lawsuits, HIPPAA violation issues, etc will have no bearing on the approval of unemployment benefits, but you will be able to see what evidence of wrongdoing they have against you, they will be required to explain exactly what was the reason that you were terminated (in order to keep you from receiving benefits).

    When the niece of the nurse took upon herself to post on the board at work a note that detailed your ER visit and told what was wrong with you, did you take the posting down or keep a copy of it? What exactly were you told was the reason you were being terminated from your job, by the employer, at the time of termination? What was the original reason you were in the ER? Was it in any way related to your job, were you supposed to be at work during this time, did you present a doctor's excuse at work for this visit? By the way, is the niece of the nurse a co-worker, or your supervisor?
    Last edited by commentator; 07-25-2011 at 11:40 AM.
  4. #4
    LAWMED is offline Member
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    Speak with an attorney. Obviously you may note from responses that there are certain facts that have to be considered which we have not been given. We have no idea why you were in the ER. What was written or said and what was true or false and why you were actually fired. You need an attorney to explain any roadblocks. HIPAA and your having a basis for a civil lawsuit are two different things.

    DO file a complaint with DHHS:
    [url=http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/privacy/hipaa/complaints/index.html]How To File a Complaint[/url]

    DO file a complaint with the board of nursing in your state. HIPAA violations such as the one you describe often result in suspension or revocation of a license. it is inexcusable.

    All of this said, if the niece posted information which is untrue at your workplace which characterized you as being unfit or incapable of performing your occupation this is called 'defamation per se' (libel for anything written and disseminated and slander for any speech). When someone defames you in a way that prevents you from making a living at your trade you need only prove that the defamation took place and do not have to prove specific damages. It is much more serious a form of defamation and much easier to sue for. Go see an attorney.
  5. #5
    asiny is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by LAWMED View Post
    All of this said, if the niece posted information which is untrue at your workplace which characterized you as being unfit or incapable of performing your occupation this is called 'defamation per se' (libel for anything written and disseminated and slander for any speech). When someone defames you in a way that prevents you from making a living at your trade you need only prove that the defamation took place and do not have to prove specific damages. It is much more serious a form of defamation and much easier to sue for. Go see an attorney.
    Just in case you missed this part - I made it clearer. To prove it - you need to show that it was a lie.

    How did you get to the ER?
    Who knew you were going to the ER (not who knew you went)?
    Can you prove the story came from the attending nurse to her sister/niece?

    No need to answer here, but;
    What was the hospitals official cause of treatment/visit to the ER?
  6. #6
    ecmst12 is offline Senior Member
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    "Easier" to sue for is subjective. It's still not something you're going to get a lawyer to take on contingency, so it's still going to cost thousands (possibly 10s of thousands) in legal fees and several years to resolve. Not Worth It unless perhaps the person you are suing is independently wealthy.

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