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How do I go about asking a hospital to do a chart audit log to see if a former employee looked at my and my husbandís chart?

Friday May 25, 2012
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Question:

How do I go about asking a hospital to do a chart audit log to see if a former employee looked at my and my husbandís chart? My husbandís ex-wife worked in billing for about three months at one of our local hospitals. I believe she looked at our records while she was employed there. We have had problems with her, including her coming to my work and threatening me. I now have a restraining order against her. I would like to know if the hospital has to give me this information. She would have had access to my social security number and other private information, if she did look at my chart. How would I go about requesting an audit of all employees that logged on and looked at our charts in the past three to six months? I would appreciate any advice you could give me.

Ginny



Nancy Brent replies:

Dear Ginny,

The situation described in your question sounds quite troubling. Since you obtained a restraining order against the ex-wife, you may be able to have the nurse attorney or attorney who handled that proceeding ask for a subpoena of the hospital's personnel records audit to determine if your personal information was compromised. This request would, of course, have to be related to the reason for the restraining order to begin with.

You did not indicate if the charts were electronic. Regardless of how they are kept, there is a log indicating requests and details about the date, the identity of the person requesting the records, etc. If a subpoena is granted, you could then determine if the ex-wife did review your, and/or your husband's records. Do keep in mind, though, that she may have been able to access the records without going through the required procedures ó for example, if she had the computer code to get into those records in the facility.

You need to discuss this with your current legal counsel. If you do not have one, you should consult with a nurse attorney or attorney in your state who works with employees or concentrates his or her practice in personal injury law (e.g., invasion of privacy). Also, the ex-wife most likely violated employee conduct codes, HIPAA and other applicable laws for the protection of personal health information, while she worked at the facility. If this can be proven, legal action can be taken against her under those laws. If she is found to have breached applicable laws, she may be assessed fines and/or face incarceration. If all that were proven, it would cost this woman her current job also.

It would be best to consult with your attorney about this as soon as possible.

Sincerely,
Nancy




Nancy J. Brent, RN, MS, JD, is an attorney in private practice in Wilmette, Ill. This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as legal or any other advice. The reader is encouraged to seek the advice of an attorney or other professional when an opinion is needed.