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    concernedCO's Avatar
    concernedCO Posts: 1, Reputation: 1
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    #1

    Aug 15, 2014, 08:47 PM
    HIPPA or state laws
    There is a young kid who works at local nursing home. She put on Twitter "I am happy when a resident dies or leaves. That is one less person to take care of." I know this is very insensitive of her to write. The problem is we live in a very small town with only one nursing home. Everyone knows this girl and the resident who died. No, she didn't put any names on Twitter, but this was a very wrong thing to say. The nursing home is sweeping it under the rug. Is there anything I can do to make sure this doesn't happen again?
    Fr_Chuck's Avatar
    Fr_Chuck Posts: 81,300, Reputation: 7691
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    #2

    Aug 15, 2014, 10:43 PM
    Sweeping what under the rug.

    There is nothing illegal, it is very cude and very improper. But not illegal.
    J_9's Avatar
    J_9 Posts: 40,291, Reputation: 5645
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    #3

    Aug 16, 2014, 12:13 AM
    Yes, this could be a violation of HIPAA. It's worth reporting to your HR department.
    Fr_Chuck's Avatar
    Fr_Chuck Posts: 81,300, Reputation: 7691
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    #4

    Aug 16, 2014, 04:09 AM
    I would ask how, I it did not name any patient, did not give any medical information of any type? Where could a violation be?
    joypulv's Avatar
    joypulv Posts: 21,593, Reputation: 2941
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    #5

    Aug 16, 2014, 05:02 AM
    The nursing home is probably 'sweeping it under the rug' publicly, AND chewing her out privately.
    Look at it this way: let's say they fire her, and while waiting to find a replacement, patients are neglected. 'Doing something' about a wrong can have it's own repercussions.
    The question isn't what her young and stupid remark said so much as whether or not she is good at her job.
    In my late 60s now, I absolutely dread being an old person in a nursing home, breathing but not living.
    I might say the same thing she did, but couched in more sophisticated terms.
    A few of my friends are doctors and nurses. The ones in ERs and ICUs don't make crass remarks. They sometimes JOKE, to each other. The jokes can sound crass. Why do they joke? Because they see people die every day, and if they don't have jokes, they break down emotionally.

    When my 92 year old father wanted to come home from 'rehab' (really just a nursing home, but Medicare covers rehab) and stop taking drugs, I took him home, and he died a short time later.
    Did I kill him? Did he kill himself? Did he just let nature take it's course? Guess which one I think.

    Please give long and careful thought to this whole story you write about, and be aware of the fine line between concern and meddling in something best handled by those in the profession.
    Jake2008's Avatar
    Jake2008 Posts: 6,721, Reputation: 3460
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    #6

    Aug 16, 2014, 06:43 AM
    I have two points to make.

    The first one is, anything that is posted publicly such as Facebook, twitter, etc. is for the whole world to see. Had I seen that remark on twitter, and lived or worked in that town, I would have reported it to the management of the nursing home. And I would have followed it up.

    My second point is, if I worked with that person, and was aware of what she had done, I would have spoken to her directly. Her being young, and perhaps inexperienced, is no excuse for the comments she made, that could have affected the family of the person who has either died, or moved out of the nursing home.

    To me, her words, reflect a person who is not suitable to the work she does. For whatever reason- she is young, immature, selfish, etc. This would be a red flag to me, for anyone of any age, who works in a nursing home, and makes comments like this in a public way, and more particularly, where those comments are likely to be seen. If she was 40 years old and saying she is happy when a resident dies or moves out, the consequences, would be- and should be- swiftly dealt with. Youth does not excuse bad behavior in these circumstances.

    Like J9 said, it could be a violation of HIPAA, and it should be reported to HR.

    To not say or do anything, compromises your ethics. I would hate to think that if a loved one of mine were referred to in the uncaring manner that this young worker chose to make public, somebody- those who work with her, or those affected by her remarks- would do something. With an attitude that this young person has displayed, I would be wondering what else goes on in there.
    ScottGem's Avatar
    ScottGem Posts: 64,966, Reputation: 6056
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    #7

    Aug 16, 2014, 07:07 AM
    I really can't see a HIPPA violation here, or any illegal action. If a person dies its public record. So even if she mentioned the name I just don't see how it could be a HIPPA violation.

    On the other hand it was an insensitive remark that indicates the person is not suited for that type of work.

    As for being swept under the rug, what do you mean by that. It would not be proper for the nursing home to discuss any disciplinary action taken against the employee with you or any member of the public. In fact, I have to wonder how you think this is any of your business in the first place.
    J_9's Avatar
    J_9 Posts: 40,291, Reputation: 5645
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    #8

    Aug 16, 2014, 10:34 AM
    As nurses we are held to a higher standard. We are not allowed to post anything on social media that could be recognized by a patients family or friends is considered a HIPAA violation.

    We had an issue very similar concerning a nurse in our ER. She is no longer working at our facility.
    joypulv's Avatar
    joypulv Posts: 21,593, Reputation: 2941
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    #9

    Aug 16, 2014, 11:17 AM
    There seem to be 2 assumptions being made here by different responders. One is that the poster works at the facility and the other is that HR doesn't know about the issue. It's clear that they already know, because OP claims that it's being swept under the rug. It seems clear to me anyway that OP doesn't work at the place.

    The question is what can OP do, in light of HIPAA? Nothing. The insensitive young employee did not violate any law. She might have violated good sense and the rules of some medical establishments. But the nursing home didn't fire her.

    Maybe they are planning to, maybe they aren't. If you want to get her fired, you will have to do it in some other way than HIPAA, such as getting all the families with someone in the nursing home to sign a petition.

    (It seems I'm way off to one end of the spectrum of opinion about this, with the possible exception of Fr_Chuck and ScottGem.)
    J_9's Avatar
    J_9 Posts: 40,291, Reputation: 5645
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    #10

    Aug 16, 2014, 11:54 AM
    I'm of the school of thought that the OP does work for the facility or he/she wouldn't know this matter is being swept under the rug.

    SocIal media is changing a number of ways in which HIPAA works. For example, I live in a small town as well. I cannot post something along the lines of "OMG we delivered 6 babies last night!" (just an example, I have been in classes all week and not at work). This is indeed a HIPAA violation, even though I did not mention her name. Why? Because it is still sensitive information. On social media we are not allowed to post anything with regards to any patient, period. A name doesn't have to be mentioned. As long as it can be "assumed" that we are talking about a patient, or a situation involving a patient, it is considered a violation.

    Social media take HIPAA to an entirely different level.
    odinn7's Avatar
    odinn7 Posts: 7,691, Reputation: 1547
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    #11

    Aug 16, 2014, 12:25 PM
    My wife faces the same issues with social media. She has been to meetings in which they tell the nurses to be careful that nothing is said on social media. My wife takes it one step further and doesn't even mention anything at all about nursing on FB or Twitter.
    ScottGem's Avatar
    ScottGem Posts: 64,966, Reputation: 6056
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    #12

    Aug 16, 2014, 04:17 PM
    The OP referred to a "young kid who works at local nursing home". I didn't take this to be a nurse or other medical practitioner, but more like an orderly, maintenance person or the like.

    But even if this would constitute a violation, reaction might depend on what training this person had. I agree that this "kid" should be disciplined, but that discipline should be a matter between HR and the employee. Not anyone else.
    J_9's Avatar
    J_9 Posts: 40,291, Reputation: 5645
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    #13

    Aug 16, 2014, 04:49 PM
    Yes, HIPAA applies to all employees of a facility, not just medical professionals. It is definitely a matter handled between HR and the employee only.
    AntC's Avatar
    AntC Posts: 184, Reputation: 19
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    #14

    Aug 17, 2014, 06:02 AM
    J9, I respectfully disagree with you. I am the HIPPA compliance officer for my company. What this person posted is very unethical, but it is not a HIPPA violation. No name was mentioned and the name of the facility was not mentioned. Just because it is a small town and everyone "knows" what they are talking about does not violate HIPPA.
    tickle's Avatar
    tickle Posts: 23,801, Reputation: 2674
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    #15

    Aug 17, 2014, 07:32 AM
    I have to agree with AntC. Not a HIPAA. Just a person lacking in social graces and should be reprimanded, and given an assignment way down on the maintenance scale like cleaning out colostomy bags.

    I just hope it was not someone in training for a position of trust and caring, which would be clearly misdirected.
    talaniman's Avatar
    talaniman Posts: 54,174, Reputation: 10852
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    #16

    Aug 17, 2014, 07:36 AM
    Doesn't matter what anyone thinks at this point since if the person was reported it would be up to the HR department of the facility to take any action that they deem appropriate and of which we may ever know.
    mogrann's Avatar
    mogrann Posts: 860, Reputation: 193
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    #17

    Aug 17, 2014, 11:25 AM
    AntC I can see you are not from a small town. I am and have experience in how much news travels. Even if the person did not enter the about section on twitter, people in the town will know where she works. They will also know who passed away at the local nursing home as people love to talk and that will be the conversation. Did you hear betty passed away, have you talked to her daughter Donna etc etc.
    mogrann's Avatar
    mogrann Posts: 860, Reputation: 193
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    #18

    Aug 17, 2014, 11:32 AM
    Think this is simalr the doctor posted enough information that people could figure out who the patient was.. small towns it would be so easy to figure out who they were talking about
    Doctor reprimanded after patient privacy breached on Facebook, my take
    J_9's Avatar
    J_9 Posts: 40,291, Reputation: 5645
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    #19

    Aug 17, 2014, 11:53 AM
    AntC, I must also respectfully disagree with you. Considering your activity on this site, I believe your ethics are questionable at best.

    Thank you for the thread Mogrann. That was exactly what I was talking about.
    Alty's Avatar
    Alty Posts: 28,318, Reputation: 5972
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    #20

    Aug 17, 2014, 01:03 PM
    J9, I respectfully disagree with you. I am the HIPPA compliance officer for my company. What this person posted is very unethical, but it is not a HIPPA violation. No name was mentioned and the name of the facility was not mentioned. Just because it is a small town and everyone "knows" what they are talking about does not violate HIPPA.
    AntC, I have to ask, if you're HIPAA (notice the spelling) compliance officer for your company, how is it that you don't even know that it's HIPAA, not HIPPA (see your post above)? You spelled it wrong 3 times in one post, but you claim to be the compliance officer for your company?

    That's a bit disturbing.

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