As a nurse, you need to abide by the rules set out in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
Lawmakers put this act in place to protect patients’ right to privacy. As a key member of a medical team, you will be privy to highly personal information that your patients might not want others to know about.
For example, you may access a copy of their medical record, detailing things they have not even told their family or have kept from their employer for fear of losing their job.
In other cases, they might not want people to know because they feel embarrassed about having a specific condition.
While you may need to access that information and share it with colleagues, HIPAA requires you to keep it safe. The act governs how you and the hospital store the information and who you pass it to.
It’s easy for information to get out
As a nurse, you may be so busy at times that it is easy to make mistakes. You might leave a folder with a patient’s healthcare information lying about. Or maybe you are talking to someone about a patient and get confused and give them confidential information about another patient.
If a patient accuses you of breaching the HIPAA, you could end up facing disciplinary action from the nursing licensing board. They might refuse to believe that you did not do so on purpose. Or perhaps they just cannot understand how anyone could make such a mistake because their job is far less stressful. Getting legal help to present your defense will be crucial to give you the best chance of protecting your license.