Is it a hipaa violation if I, the employee, called a patient for personal reasons?
Asked May 5, 2010, 08:13 AM
I am a front desk receptionist for a dental office. A patient came in, was very friendly, flirty, etc. The next day I got his phone number and sent him a tex message. In the tex, I told him who I was, and that if he was SINGLE and interested then he could call me. We don't have an office policy that states we can not have social meeting with patients outside of the office and my bosses have tried to set me up with patients and I have communicated with a patient before outside of working hours.
Later that day his fiancé called and bullied me on the phone. Called me horrific names, and said she was going to make sure I was fired. I told her I was sorry, that if I would've known he was involved, I would've not contacted him.
Our office then got a call from the patients referring dental office that the patients fiancé was going to sue. The office manager said that I violated hipaa and they were going to make sure I was fired as well and they would never refer another patient to our office unless I was.
When I came to work on Monday, I was told that I was being put on a 2 week leave, without pay until it could get figured out because my bosses don't want a lawsuit or a complaint with the board and that they don't fully understand if there is a case or not. The patient himself has never contacted me or the office. All communication has been with his "fiance" who also claims I caused their break-up.
Keep in mind that I have been told I am a "stellar employee". I help the patients feel welcome and relaxed, I'm always friendly, dependable, etc.
Is this in fact a hipaa violation? Do I have any rights at all? I live in Arizona, which is a "right to work" state I understand, but just not sure if this is right or not.