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Our director of nursing wants us to do our charting in the dining room, among the residents. What is your opinion of this?

Monday October 1, 2012
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Dear Donna,

I work in a long-term care facility. Our director of nursing recently announced that when we do our charting, we are to take the charts into the dining room to be among the residents. I feel this is a potential Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act violation and am very uncomfortable having residents’ charts in public areas. What is your opinion?


Dear Donna replies:

Dear Uncomfortable,

The practice does not necessarily violate HIPAA regulations as long as "reasonable precautions" are taken to ensure the privacy of the patient’s record, as you would do in any setting, including the bedside. You may find this document helpful in addressing that concern www.hhs.gov/ocr/privacy/hipaa/faq/incidential_uses_and_disclosures/200.html, especially the question that starts: "Are physicians and doctor's offices prohibited from..."

My primary concern would be that by doing what your DON is requesting, the nurses might not have adequate quiet, undisturbed time to focus on getting their charting done. This is something I cannot assess or address without being in that situation or knowing the reason for this request. Talk to your fellow nurses and see how they feel. If you believe the practice interferes with getting charting done in a timely, focused manner, discuss it with your DON.

Best wishes,

Donna Cardillo, RN, MA, well-known career guru, is Nurse.com’s “Dear Donna” and author of “Your First Year as a Nurse: Making the Transition from Total Novice to Successful Professional” and “The ULTIMATE Career Guide for Nurses: Practical Advice for Thriving at Every Stage of Your Career.” Information about the books is available at www.Nurse.com/CE/7010 and www.Nurse.com/CE/7250, respectively. To ask Donna your question, go to www.Nurse.com/Asktheexperts/Deardonna. Find a “Dear Donna” seminar near you: Call 800-866-0919 or visit http://Events.nursingspectrum.com/Seminar.