A staff nurse working at a medical clinic looked up a patient file in order to weaken a lawsuit case the patient had against the nurse’s husband. She gave the information to her husband who then called the patient and made it known that he had medical information which he believed weakened the man’s case. He suggested that the man consider dropping the lawsuit. The patient called and informed the clinic what the nurse had done. He also called the district attorney and within a month both the husband and the nurse was indicted.
The nurse was also fired the day after the she gave the information to her husband. The nurse pleaded out and is awaiting sentencing. She faces up to 10 years in prison, a fine of as much as $250,000, and up to three years of supervised probation. The state nursing board is seeking to revoke her license. The nurse had no right to look up the patient information and she certainly had no right to share the information with her husband. She effectively ruined her life along with her husband’s. If she was worried about the lawsuit, there were other ways to go about getting help.
They could have hired a good lawyer to help. She put her entire clinic in jeopardy for selfish reasons. The clinic handled the situation perfectly. They fired the nurse on the spot as soon as the breach was brought to light and held a meeting to educate employees on the importance of HIPAA and what could happen if it is violated. I do feel sorry for the nurse because she was dealing with so much stress but she deserves what she gets. She had other options available to her and shouldn’t have looked up that information.
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