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How do I go about proving a hospital colleague may have shared my medical history and that of my family with my superiors?



Dear Nancy,

A nurse who works in the same hospital as I do is going to school to become an NP. He was doing some of his clinical work at my doctor’s office. While there, he researched my medical history and that of my family and then shared it with some of my superiors. I know this is a breach of confidentiality, but how do I go about proving this? I doubt if I could get anyone to admit to this breach.


Dear Nancy replies:

Dear Tina:

There is no doubt that what your nurse colleague did is a breach of confidentiality and privacy. You are correct in assuming this may be difficult to prove since it is doubtful that those with whom he shared the information will speak against him, especially voluntarily.

However, they may have no choice but to speak the truth if required to do so in a hearing before the state board of nursing or in a trial alleging a breach of the Nurse Practice Act and its rules, such as unprofessional conduct and/or or a breach of confidentiality and an invasion of privacy.

To help you with this issue, a consultation with a nurse attorney or attorney in your state would be your best choice in order to weigh your options and determine how to proceed with this nurse colleague’s conduct.

His behavior makes one wonder what other charts and information he gathered and shared. His ethics and his professionalism need to be evaluated, and he should be held responsible for
his conduct.

It is assumed that his NP program would not condone this behavior either. The attorney with whom you consult can help you identify how this option may be exercised as well.



About Author

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.

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