One of the OCR cases we found interesting is reproduced below. It is a lesson for all those who carry PHI that need to know rule applies even for your best friend, a fellow employee or your spouse. So even if you are in the corridors of your hospital – don’t talk loud.
State Hospital Sanctions Employees for Disclosing Patient’s PHI
Covered Entity: Health Care Provider / General Hospital
Issue: Impermissible Disclosure
A nurse and an orderly at a state hospital discussed the HIV/AIDS status of a patient and the patient’s spouse within earshot of other patients without making reasonable efforts to prevent the disclosure. Upon learning of the incident, the hospital placed both employees on leave; the orderly resigned his employment shortly thereafter. Among other actions taken to satisfactorily resolve this matter, the hospital took further disciplinary action with the nurse, which included: documenting the employee record with a memo of the incident; one year probation; referral for peer review; and further training on HIPAA Privacy. In addition to corrective action taken under the Privacy Rule, the state attorney general’s office entered into a monetary settlement agreement with the patient.