Confidentiality in a patient’s health information is very important. It is also the obligation of any health professionals who have access to the information to not expose or disclose any of it to anyone. Confidentiality is also about privacy and respecting someone’s wishes. But if an RN breaks that, the Board may put you into disciplinary action. Once the Board summoned you, you need the help of a nurse attorney for the defense.
At the time of the initial incident, the RN was employed as a Registered Nurse at a hospital in Irving, Texas, and had been in that position for three (3) years and ten (10) months.
It was on or about May 27, 2020, and May 28, 2020, the RN inappropriately accessed the confidential health information of Patient Medical Record Number 1208831, for personal reasons and without authorization, numerous times. The RN’s conduct exposed the patient unnecessarily to a risk of harm from use, accessing, or disclosure of their confidential medical information without their written authorization and placed the facility in violation of HIPAA (The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act).
In response to the incident, the RN states that he is in a relationship with the patient and is listed as the patient’s emergency contact, and had signed a release of information for the various clinics, offices, pharmacies, and schools that were assisting them. He then states that his partner’s mental health declined and the dynamics of the relationship transitioned to him being the caregiver. He states with his partner’s consent, he managed every facet of his life. The RN states he has access to all accounts for his partner, including, social security number, bank accounts, emails, various online accounts, and his medical records through MyChart. And that on May 27″, he received a notification from his partner’s MyChart that a new test result was available. He states it was for a COVID test which was required if you entered the Emergency Room (ER) at Baylor Scott & White. The RN states he looked up his location via his phone and confirmed he was in the ER. He states his partner did not answer his phone, so he called his partner’s mom. He also states that the mother seemed upset and distraught and told him “Patient wouldn’t want her to share his business with you. He’s not out of the woods yet, doctors say it doesn’t look good.” The RN states he called down to the ER to get more information but was told by the nurses he would need to obtain consent from his partner’s mother. The RN states he explained he was his partner and that there should be a release of information in the file. He states due to him not being able to see his partner, he made a decision out of desperation, despair, and weakness. The RN states he decided to review his chart to see if he was going to die soon.
The RN’s actions were grounds for violation and thus make the Board decided to put the RN into disciplinary action. The result could have yielded a different outcome for the RN if only he had hired a nurse attorney for the defense.
Do you have questions about the Texas Board of Nursing disciplinary process? Contact The Law Office of RN License Attorney Yong J. An for a confidential consultation by calling or texting 24/7 at (832) 428-5679 and ask for a nurse attorney.