Rochester, NY asked in Health Care Law for New York

Q: Im a nurse.the hospital called to say im being "investigated for inappropriate access to a patient chart"recommendation?

Im a contracted local travel nurse to this hospital. I have not spoken directly with the hospital yet. I Believe they think is a HIPPA violation.

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2 Lawyer Answers
V. Jonas Urba
V. Jonas Urba
  • New York, NY
  • Licensed in New York

A: Be careful. You have a duty to cooperate. If one of the investigators who contacts you is a lawyer ask if you should retain a lawyer. They don't have to permit you to have a lawyer and raising the issue, unless they involve lawyers, could make the situation worse unless you suspect that you violated codes of conduct or licensure ethics rules.

Do NOT conduct your own investigation. Do not post anything at all on social media.

Health care employees are in shortage now. Many have turned to remote consult work or left the field entirely. If you lost this job you will likely land another unless:

Your conduct fell below standards of care and you face licensure disciplinary action.

You might cooperate, remain in contact and if you see this is taking weeks look for another job. If you are not working or earning money you should qualify for honest application of unemployment benefits. Reread your ethics rules from the DOH, DOE, and your employee handbooks and follow them. Good luck.

Not legal advice and no lawyer client relationship.

C.Doris Okafor Dike
C.Doris Okafor Dike
  • Health Care Law Lawyer

A: You have a duty to the organization you are doing contract work with and a duty to your patients to keep the information confidential. If there is a suspicion that you accessed charts or information inappropriately the Hospital will be held accountable under HIPAA and you could face disciplinary action under your nursing board and your contract could be terminated. The first step, is for you /your attorney to determine if you had a right to access the patient's chart? Second, allow the health entity to conduct their investigation. Don't interfere but have some recollection why you accessed the records.

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