Friday, June 1, 2012

HIPAA is not a joke

I got one of those nasty surprises from work, the one we all dread deep down... an email that I'd done something horribly wrong pertaining to accessing patient files (didn't say exactly what the situation was) and they had scheduled a disciplinary hearing. I confirmed that I would be there and my head was in a total tailspin. What did I do??? Was I going to be fired for whatever it was??? I've been shaky with a roiling stomach ever since. This is my job, my identity, my income, my career, my lifestyle.

I'm so lucky to have a union. I called my union rep, and she was able to tell me the details. Long story short- I had been randomly audited, and "dinged". Yes I accessed this person's files, but I had their full permission. However, said permission had not been submitted as per protocol before I accessed the files. Therefore, I was subject to investigation and discipline.

Lucky for me, I was able to obtain a written signature from the person prior to my disciplinary hearing, that she had given me permission at the time. But even that seems not to be enough. Although they seemed to hint that I would not be fired, the type of disciplinary action they are going to take will not be revealed until Monday, another particular form of torturing me for my failure to comply with protocol.

I have to say, though, that having the union behind me was a big help. My rep knew the procedure and the history of similar cases and was able to get me through it, just like a defense lawyer, I guess. She's got a lot of power, and the administration repects and listens to her. They believe me that I had no ill intent to spy on this person, as this person testified on my behalf, but to what extent they still feel the need to punish me I don't know.

I'll be happy with a written or verbal warning.
Anything more than that, and the union and I will contest the action.
I hope and pray it doesn't come to that.

You cannot even open your own minor childrens' files if they are age 10 and up, even in emergency situations, without prior written consent from THE CHILD on file.

Follow those rules, guys!


Amy said...

that is crazy. . I hope you come out okay. I just found your blog and enjoy it very much.

Mankiller's Life said...

Hang in there Pookie, I am sure it won't be more than a verbal warning, you are such an amazing nurse.