You likely have access to a lot of patient data if you are a nurse. Some of this information might seem trivial, while other information is monumental. Either way, confidentiality is a cornerstone in the nurse-patient relationship.
Mishandling your patients’ health information is a violation of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). To protect your nursing license, it is important that you understand the policy and adhere to it.
For the most part, HIPAA restrictions come down to what your patients are okay with. Your patients have the right to determine how you transmit their information and what information should stay confidential. You also must let your patients know about any information disclosures if they ask. On top of this, you should always make sure that any medical databases, voicemails, emails and faxes are secure.
You may run into cases where you have to share information that you thought was confidential. It can be tricky to know what to do in an emergency situation, but if you can prove that you had to share information to protect your patient, the law should not penalize you for doing so. You may also share information with other healthcare providers who are handling your patient’s case; you just have to make sure people outside of the team cannot see or hear any of the details.
You can only have healthy relations with your patients when they trust you. Respecting your patients’ rights should help you not only with keeping your license, but also maintaining a fruitful career.