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Old 01-24-2013, 08:23 PM   #1
Tam1067
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Advice about HIPAA issue

I'm seeking unbiased advice here!

My DS 15 was hit in the head at school by another student. The hit was intentional. DS was confused and could not remember details from his day, but he never lost consciousness. Because of his symptoms, we took him to the ER. They did a CT which was clear, but the ER doctor said he had a mild concussion and should not do PE for two weeks and could stay home from school for 5 days (she wrote him an absence excuse).

He returned to school the next day and took his final exams because he did not want to put them off until after the holidays, but still felt lousy for a few more days.

We and his teachers reported the incident to the school, so the guy who hit him was punished according to school policy. This incident has caused quite a bit of personal trouble for DS because a couple the kids who were his friends no longer speak to him; they blame him for the kid getting in trouble. But we are dealing with that!

Now, about a month after this incident, DS heard from another student (who knows all the kids involved) that her mother, who is an ER doctor at a different hospital and who has never treated my son, accessed his CT records and determined that it was not a "medical concussion" because the CT did not show scarring, that the doctor at that the original ER did not know what she was doing, and that my DS is a "baby."

I am upset that she was looking at his records when she had no business doing so and that she told her daughter about this as well.

Does anyone have advice about what I should do? Should I report this to the hospital? To the federal government as a HIPAA violation? Any thoughts?

Thanks.
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Old 01-24-2013, 08:30 PM   #2
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How do you know the girl is telling the truth about her mother? It really sounds like someone trying to get your son riled up again.

I also doubt that Hospital A would have been sharing records with Hospital B without a signed consent in place. Just from my experience, two unaffiliated hospitals would not have a system in place for employees to look at each other's records. The request would have have to gone through someone at the hospital where your son was treated.
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Old 01-24-2013, 11:04 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by teacherforhi View Post
How do you know the girl is telling the truth about her mother? It really sounds like someone trying to get your son riled up again.

I also doubt that Hospital A would have been sharing records with Hospital B without a signed consent in place. Just from my experience, two unaffiliated hospitals would not have a system in place for employees to look at each other's records. The request would have have to gone through someone at the hospital where your son was treated.
It's absolutely, easily possible. Some medical information systems are multi-entity, meaning that more than one hospital/institution shares the same database. It's the hospital's choice whether or how they restrict personnel at one hospital from accessing patient info at another hospital in the system. So it's entirely possible that ER Mom has an account that will let her access patient data for more than one hospital. Or who knows, maybe she picks up per diem shifts at the other hospital once a month and has an account there for that reason.

If she actually did this, you're right, it's a HIPAA violation, and an serious one. At the hospitals i worked at, this would be a firing offense. All HIS systems in use in the US should be HIPAA compliant by now, which would mean that there is a record of her accessing your son's data.

Personally, I'd report it to the hospital where your son was treated, and the hospital where ER Mom works, and let them sort it out.
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Old 01-24-2013, 08:31 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tam1067 View Post
I'm seeking unbiased advice here!

My DS 15 was hit in the head at school by another student. The hit was intentional. DS was confused and could not remember details from his day, but he never lost consciousness. Because of his symptoms, we took him to the ER. They did a CT which was clear, but the ER doctor said he had a mild concussion and should not do PE for two weeks and could stay home from school for 5 days (she wrote him an absence excuse).

He returned to school the next day and took his final exams because he did not want to put them off until after the holidays, but still felt lousy for a few more days.

We and his teachers reported the incident to the school, so the guy who hit him was punished according to school policy. This incident has caused quite a bit of personal trouble for DS because a couple the kids who were his friends no longer speak to him; they blame him for the kid getting in trouble. But we are dealing with that!

Now, about a month after this incident, DS heard from another student (who knows all the kids involved) that her mother, who is an ER doctor at a different hospital and who has never treated my son, accessed his CT records and determined that it was not a "medical concussion" because the CT did not show scarring, that the doctor at that the original ER did not know what she was doing, and that my DS is a "baby."

I am upset that she was looking at his records when she had no business doing so and that she told her daughter about this as well.

Does anyone have advice about what I should do? Should I report this to the hospital? To the federal government as a HIPAA violation? Any thoughts?

Thanks.
If this is true that is a terrible violation on the part of the MD. I would call the hospital where the event supposedly occured, they should have a risk managment team that will look into it. Although, I hate to say that since she's an MD rather than an RN she'll probably just get a slap on the wrist!

One question, around here you can't access records from other hospitals unless they are part of the same system. Is this the case where you live?
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Old 01-24-2013, 08:37 PM   #5
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The girl told my son that the ERs are on the same system. I don't know how these things work though. She also knew the CT was clear so I think she does know what she's talking about.

I'm shocked and angry.
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Old 01-24-2013, 08:43 PM   #6
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Big violation of HIPPA. I would report it to the hospital HR and let them know what has occurred and you are looking at what recourse may be available.

If she did access your son's medical records it will be in their system stating so.
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Old 01-24-2013, 08:48 PM   #7
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I've had numerous hospital employees tell me they looked at records they should not look at! :O Oh my, what people will tell their hairdressers.

I'm thinking if they're on the same system that this could be true because of my experience. It is truly upsetting.

I wish your son well.

My sister teaches high school and the stories she tells me think there is no amount of money in this world that would make me be a teacher--esp. where she lives. I wouldn;t even call it "teaching" anymore.
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Old 01-24-2013, 09:02 PM   #8
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Is it possible? Yes. Plausible? No.

The mother of a girl who was not a participant in the situation is going to risk her job, her license abd her career to involve herself in an argument between two boys? In her shoes I might be tempted to look at the records, but to discuss them with her teenage daughter and allow her daughter to share those juicy tidbits?

I'm thinking the daughter might be "embelishing" the truth.
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Old 01-24-2013, 09:14 PM   #9
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As a medical professional, I think you should make a written statement and formal complaint to BOTH hospitals. I would simply state the facts, who said what, and that you feel there may be a violation of your privacy.

That said, I don't assume the mom, MD is guilty of anything. The daughter may be making stuff up! But that is why it is up to each hospital to investigate and determine if a violation is made. If it is via computer, there are trails left for such a case, and they will know which physician looked at your son's record and where.

It is a federal mandate that all ER's be able to share info, so it is possible these 2 separate hospitals have their systems in place already.

Follow up with the hospitals, and if a violation was made and you feel it is appropriate, complain to the Federal government, AMA, even the hospital's accreditation board. It is unprofessional conduct if from the mother and should at least be investigated, if no legal action taken. And if it is that the daughter is spreading such rumors, mom needs to know about it and have a lonnnng talk with the daughter.
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Old 01-24-2013, 09:21 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LoriABil View Post
As a medical professional, I think you should make a written statement and formal complaint to BOTH hospitals. I would simply state the facts, who said what, and that you feel there may be a violation of your privacy.

That said, I don't assume the mom, MD is guilty of anything. The daughter may be making stuff up! But that is why it is up to each hospital to investigate and determine if a violation is made. If it is via computer, there are trails left for such a case, and they will know which physician looked at your son's record and where.

It is a federal mandate that all ER's be able to share info, so it is possible these 2 separate hospitals have their systems in place already.

Follow up with the hospitals, and if a violation was made and you feel it is appropriate, complain to the Federal government, AMA, even the hospital's accreditation board. It is unprofessional conduct if from the mother and should at least be investigated, if no legal action taken. And if it is that the daughter is spreading such rumors, mom needs to know about it and have a lonnnng talk with the daughter.
This Also, there are other levels of complaint, including the MD's board certification (likely through the American Board of Emergency Medicine) and the state medical board.

The problem is that you don't have any documentation -- it's all hearsay, and second-hand hearsay at that.

Best wishes.
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Old 01-24-2013, 09:33 PM   #11
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HIPAA requires that covered entities, including hospitals, have an individual designated as a Privacy Officer. That is the person I would recommend you ask to speak with at the hospital where your son was treated. He or she can investigate the allegation further, including performing an audit trail to find out who accessed the record.
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Old 01-25-2013, 06:52 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LoriABil View Post
As a medical professional, I think you should make a written statement and formal complaint to BOTH hospitals. I would simply state the facts, who said what, and that you feel there may be a violation of your privacy.

That said, I don't assume the mom, MD is guilty of anything. The daughter may be making stuff up! But that is why it is up to each hospital to investigate and determine if a violation is made. If it is via computer, there are trails left for such a case, and they will know which physician looked at your son's record and where.

It is a federal mandate that all ER's be able to share info, so it is possible these 2 separate hospitals have their systems in place already.

Follow up with the hospitals, and if a violation was made and you feel it is appropriate, complain to the Federal government, AMA, even the hospital's accreditation board. It is unprofessional conduct if from the mother and should at least be investigated, if no legal action taken. And if it is that the daughter is spreading such rumors, mom needs to know about it and have a lonnnng talk with the daughter.
I 100% agree. Report it and let the investigators decide if it is worth taking action. I work in the field of behavioral health & a violation like that is a very serious issue.
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Old 01-24-2013, 09:15 PM   #13
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If the hospitals are in the same system she could have easily looked up your son's information. It is very simple now that the hospitals use electronic medical records. I would call the hospital and file a complaint and also report the HIPAA violation. But I would go a step further and report the doctor to your state's licensing board. This is a major violation and on top of it she gave the information to her child who in turned used it to bully your son. This is not something that you can or should let go.
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Old 01-24-2013, 09:30 PM   #14
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I have a very strong feeling the girl is lying. The only way her mother could have viewed the CT scans/results is if they were part of the same hospital system. Such as University Hospital Smallttown Division and University Hospital City Division. That is something that is very easy to find out. Just go on the hospitals website. Like here, the Hospital of the University of Pensylvania is part of the Pennhealth system. All you have to do is google "Pennhelath" or "HUP" and the website will clearly show you what hospitals are within the system.

If the hospitals are not within the same system there is no way that the MD could have viewed your son's electronic records. For her to get your son's records you would have had to sign a release of information form.
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Old 01-24-2013, 09:37 PM   #15
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It amazes me how some people are ready to file all sorts of complaints against the doctor and threaten her license and livelihood over the gossip of a teenage girl.


Three scenarios popped into my head.

1. Doctor Mom chose to involve herself in this matter by looking up OP's son's nedical record even though she was not the treating physician and had no direct involvement with this matter. Doctor Mom shared this priviledged and confidential information with her teenaged daughter, so that daughter could share information with other students.

2. Doctor Mom never looked at medical records. OP told us that her son returned to school the next day to take exams, even though his treating physician wanted him to stay home. I'm sure that was cause for speculation amoung those who were gossiping about the incident. Doctor Mom could have been speculating about OP's son's medical condition based on publicly known information, i. e., he went back to school the next day so he "really wasn't hurt." Teenage daughter may be repeating and embelishing her mother's conjecture.


3. Doctor Mom never said a word about any of this abd her daughter made the whole story up.


Sorry, but I'm just not buying that a doctor who has apparently been practicing for many years would risk her license to inject herself into this situation.
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