Licensed nursing professionals are dedicated to helping people when they are sick and helping them stay healthy. One of the tools of their job is accessing a patient’s medical record to look up and record important and relevant information about the patient.
But those medical records are highly confidential. They are so confidential that the federal government passed the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) to ensure that patients’ privacy is protected. Violating HIPAA could result in serious consequences and could even put your nursing license in jeopardy.
Because the majority of medical providers use electronic medical records (EMR), it is a lot easier for any violations to be discovered by the facility’s IT department. Viewing a patient’s record without permission can lead to serious disciplinary action, depending on the circumstances of the violation. Penalties can range from a warning by an employer all the way to criminal charges.
A privacy violation can occur quite accidentally, especially in large medical facilities. For example, a nurse who has just met with a patient goes to add notes to the patient’s EMR but does not realize they have accessed the record of another patient who has the same name and is also a patient. When unauthorized access is discovered, the nurse will likely receive a warning and maybe a brush-up training on proper procedure.
There are also privacy violations that occur because a nurse may be “curious” about a significant other or ex’s medical records, or they are checking someone’s EMR on behalf of a friend or family member. Whatever the reason, this is clearly a violation of HIPAA, and the nurse would be fired immediately. Their employer would also report the violation to the Illinois Board of Nursing, who may decide to take action against the nurse. Even if the nurse is able to keep his or her license, finding another nursing position with a HIPAA violation on your record is almost impossible.
If an EMR is accessed by a nurse for malicious intent, in addition to being fired and potential loss of his or her nursing license, he or she may also face criminal charges. There have been multiple cases where these types of violations occurred that included the use of social media and those involved were charged.
Contact an Illinois Professional License Defense Lawyer
If you are a nurse and have been accused of violating HIPAA – or accused of any other allegation – do not delay in contacting a seasoned Chicago nursing license defense attorney. Call Williams & Nickl, LLC at 312-335-9470 to schedule a free and confidential consultation.