ETHICAL PROBLEMS: Disguised as a family member

December 2004 
Volume 34  Number 12
Pages 28 - 28
  PDF Version Available!


  • Figure. ROY SCOTT....

    I really goofed. Last week, just after starting my shift, I took a call from someone who identified herself as the sister of a newly admitted patient. She wanted to know how the patient was doing, and I answered her questions. Later, when I read the patient's chart, I found a note saying not to give out any information to this woman, who's not the patient's sister at all; she's an acquaintance who's been harassing the patient. I immediately told the patient what happened and apologized. Fortunately, she was very understanding. Should I do anything more to make amends ?— H.K., MASS.

    Informing your patient of the mistake was the right thing to do. You should also fill out an incident report.

    This event has legal as well as ethical implications. Under the privacy provisions of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), you're obligated to protect your patient's ...

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