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August 2011, Volume 41 Number 8 , p 12 - 12


  • Penny Simpson Brooke JD, MS, APRN


I'm wondering if what I did yesterday was a violation of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). A patient in the oncology unit had given permission for us to share any medical information with her husband. After the physician had discussed the results of a computed tomography scan with both of them, the husband asked me to explain some of the terms the physician had used to discuss the results. So I explained the terms. Unfortunately, he'd brought his sister to visit, and she was in the room when I gave my explanations. Now my patient is upset that I answered his questions while her sister-in-law was present and says she never gave consent for her to hear any details about her condition.Could I be liable for violating my patient's privacy?-T.S., IND.Yes, this is a HIPAA violation. Your patient's dismay with the disclosure you made in front of her sister-in-law should confirm this for you. You should have spoken with the husband privately. Only those persons whom

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