OT: Would you report this "illegal"l request?

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Especially since under HIPAA (one P and two As if anyone is interested) there is no requirement that anyone to report an attempted breach. It has been awhile since I had to deal with this, but I don't think there is any kind of reporting requirement if I know of a breach. However, my memory is fuzzy.
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First, I'd not do it. Second, Bob is an idiot to leave a voice mail like that. It leaves him open to all sorts of things, like prosecution. Mary should not have told Karen either. Her choice is to either ignore it or report it, not to gossip about it.
Third, I'm not up on all the HIPPA requirements. AFAIK, the information is confidential and anyone giving out the information can (and should) be disciplined.
Not knowing any background on this I can't say for sure if I'd report it. I certainly would not leave myself open to conspiracy or any other illegal aspects. Unless is is a requirement under some law/policy I'm not aware of, reporting may not happen, but I'd certainly tell Bob not to call any more.
There is another possibility here. If the care plan is not correct, not sufficient, or harmful to the patient, perhaps it should be exposed to the proper authorities. Could that be Bob's motivation?
Still another possibility, Bob wants to start his own business and wants to copy the care plans. If so, he should have done so beforehand on his own and not involved others in a possibly unethical maneuver. In any case, Bob is wrong.
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Mary is already complicit by not reporting Bob's request to violate HIPPA rules. And by involving Karen. Karen is now complicit if she does not turn in Mary. If she says nothing, and the whole event just dies, that's one thing. If the thing sees the light of day, Mary and Karen will both be fired.
A friend who asks you to involve your employer in an illegal act is not a friend. A friend who asks another friend to conceal illegal activity is no friend either. Karen is now in the best position, because if she reports it, chances are she's the one who will most likely keep her job, depending on how much time has passed.
Steve
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There is nothing in HIPAA that requires reporting by individuals. It is generally up to the institution to safeguard the privacy. There MIGHT be a company policy addressing this, but I haven't heard of one.

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wrote:

We are all talking of the hypothetical here. My beliefs are that Mary should have reported it as soon as she got the e mail, therefore relieving herself of any responsibility, and forwarding it up the chain of command. No matter what happened after that, Mary would be in the clear. Enter Karen. Now it compounds.
Rules, laws, whatever, bottom line is, the bosses are going to do what they are going to do. This situation may just die from lack of attention. And after that, all the fine points of whether or not this or that should have been done, or if there was any violation of law, or if it was a just termination will all shake out with the wash, depending on how much time and money any one of the participants should want to throw at it.
It's a complex situation that should have been nipped as soon as Mary received the voice mail.
Steve
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her. If she is going to be fired it WON"T be related to HIPAA since there are no individual requirements to report. She has no responsibility under HIPAA to do anything other than refuse the request. If she is going to be fired it would have to be related to some policy of the firm that we can't know about, or just at the whim of the boss (in an at-will state and assuming no union involvement).

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On 8/26/2011 5:59 PM, DerbyDad03 wrote:

Fired for "poor performance"? Says who? Employers do not disclose the reasons for termination of an employee, so...is that Bob's story, or did someone access his personnel file to determine why he was fired? For a terminated employee to request the record of a particular client suggests there could have been something very disagreeable done to that client by Bob.
Care plan's tend to be very generic, but would contain privileged info about client's condition, progress, etc. Does Bob want to know about other providers so he can again have contact with the client, as in "stalking"?
Bob asked Mary to commit a federal crime....it is illegal to even access a record, even if one is a legit employee, without "need to know".
I've mentioned improper acts to bosses a few times...once, an exec who had been terminated (which I was not supposed to know) came into the bldg. after hours and started carrying out boxes of stuff. I called his boss, a VP, at home. Said VP showed up about three minutes later, thanked me for the call.
Another was a pharmacist who put a new label on an outdated bag of IV antibiotic....night shift, called my supv. Said pharm. shortly left employ, went to work at drug store, and not long later did prison time for diverting narcotics.
I once worked with a guy, in HR, who had been shot in the head by a disgruntled former employee. When I started typing this, I was thinking I would not report the request. Now I'm thinking, I don't know how mad Bob is or his reason for the request, but I and the client might be much better off if the request is reported.
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On 08/27/11 6:56 AM, Norminn wrote:

It was well known by his co-workers that Bob's performance was sub-par.
It was well known that Bob's responsibilities were slowly being pared back because he was wasn't performing them well.
It was well known that Bob had not been happy with the performance evaluations he had been given in the past; he was vocal in these regard.
It was well known that Bob went over his direct supervisor's head claiming that his direct supervisor "had it out for him". Bob was also vocal in this regard.
It was shortly after the "going over the head" incident that Bob was let go.
Does it say "for poor performance" in his file? That I can't say for sure. Could it have been for bad-mouthing his supervisor in an unprofessional manner? That I can't say for sure.
Whatever the official reason was, Bob was a poor performer so letting him go was justified.
Whatever the official reason was really has no bearing on my question of "What would you do?" if someone made this request of you or if you were told about the request by the receiver.

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While I agree the official reason has no bearing on what to do, for me, the additional information above, does. Sounds like Bob was a lousy worker, a trouble maker, and we already know he's not very smart for leaving the illegal request on a voicemail.
Hence, given all that I know, if I were Mary I would report the request to the boss. This guy sounds unpredictable and who knows where this could lead, meaning the boss could find out eventually through some other means. If I were Karen, I would not do anything, because she was not directly involved, didn't hear the voicemail, etc.
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What actually made up my mind was the possibility of Bob acting against either the employer or the client....at best, it was just plain stupid for Bob to make a request for privileged information. Folks who are fired, whether for the right or the wrong reasons, too often go postal. It also sounds like management didn't do very well....if he was a poor performer for so long, he should have been counseled or let go. Interesting situation :o)
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On 08/27/11 11:26 AM, Norminn wrote:

One might assume that the poor performance evaluations and removal of responsibilities could be considered "counseling". I assume that there were conversations relating to those events.
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Reminds me of (I think) an SNL skit about how they stopped the shootings at the USPS. They show a job interviewer and his subject at a pistol range. He hands the job seeker a gun and tells him to shoot at the silhouette (of a postal manager, IIRC). Only the applicants who didn't hit the target at all are passed.
But seriously speaking, you're right to be worried about loco ex-employees. In the newsworld there's a catch phrase I am sure you've read a dozen times. It should be a movie title:
A Disgruntled Former Employee (fill in the horrible blank here)
(Does that mean that happy employees are gruntled?)
-- Bobby G.
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Morally, after all this discussion, I think Karen and Mary owe it to the people who give them their paychecks to report an attempt to coerce them into doing something potentially harmful to the company. Especially if Bob's a big dickhead and got what's coming.
-- Bobby G.
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DerbyDad03 wrote:

Report it. Bob no longer has access to those records, and there may be a <bad> reason the 'target' file was requested.

Yes.
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Smitty Two wrote:

Mary should have not involved Karen.
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DerbyDad03 wrote:

First, it's HIPAA, not HIPPA -- the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Health_Insurance_Portability_and_Accountability_Act ) . No big deal since we all know what you meant by "HIPPA", and people mistakenly cite it that way all the time, even in official employee memos etc. But I just thought I'd mention that.
Although you didn't say, I am going to assume that Bob, Mary, and Karen were all co-workers while Bob worked there, but they are not necessarily personal friends outside of work. And, I am going to assume that Bob called Mary at work and left the request on her work voicemail. If that's not the case, maybe you could elaborate a little more regarding this possibly-hypothetical situation.
Then there's the add-on question of, if this is a real situation and if you are not Bob, Mary, or Karen, and you heard about this, -- how did you hear about it, and who did you hear about it from? There could be some employee (and employer) confidentiality and privacy issues regarding how you heard about this and who you heard about it from -- not related to HIPAA.
Given the above, it would of course be a HIPAA violation for Mary to comply with Bob's request since Bob as a former and not a current employee has no need to know the information that he requested. It would also certainly be against company policy for a current employee to be making copies of company records of any kind and giving them out to a former employee. And, even if there is no specific written policy that covers that, there is a common law theory in employment law that says that employees have a duty of loyalty to their employer, and giving out this information would violate this duty of loyalty.
Now, what would I do in the sceanrio you described?
If I were Mary, and Bob was my personal friend outside of work, and even if he left the message on my work voicemail, I would probably take a personal risk regarding my employment and I would just tell Bob that I cannot do that and not to ask me to do things like that. And, I would tell him that he shouldn't ask that of me or anyone else, not just because it is wrong, but also because his former employer could use that against him -- especially if he is trying to build a case or contest his termination. I would tell him that it is not in his best interests in terms of his case. There is something called an "after-acquired evidence" post-discharge termination which means that an employer who after discharging an employee for one reason, who later learns of another violation that the former employee committed after his termination, can also terminate the employee AGAIN later on for the new reason. That would give the employer two termination dates -- and even if the employee won a case for wrongful discharge based on the first incident, he may lose his later termination case based on the second incident based on the after-acquired evidence of a new incident.
I also would not have told Karen about the call, but if I did, I would be risking that Karen would tell my employer and that could cause a problem for me at work.
If Bob was not my personal friend outside of work, and I was not trying to give him some advice as his personal friend, I would just let my employer know what happened and I would not return the call to Bob. I would let my employer handle it from there. Then the employer can let Bob know to not ask any employees to provide company files or information to him and that doing so places those employees at risk regarding their employment. I would let my employer know about Bob's call because fulfilling Bob's request would be a HIPAA violation, it would violate a duty of loyalty that I owe my employer, and most likely it would be a violation of already-written company policies.
If I were Karen, I would tell Mary that she should let her/our employer know about the call. And, if were Karen, I would probably leave it at that. In doing so, I would be taking a chance with my own employment, but if asked by my employer if I knew about this, I would tell the truth and say that Mary did tell me about it and I did tell her that she should tell her boss about the call, and that I assume she did that or was going to do that.
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On 08/26/11 5:59 PM, DerbyDad03 wrote:

Well, it's all been basically settled, at least as far the topic of this thread goes.
Mary and Karen had a conversation about the manner and Mary decided that it would be in the best interest of everyone (except for Bob, of course) that she tell her supervisor about the request.
As it turns out, Bob had also made the same request of at least one other employee. It is still not clear as to why Bob wanted that specific file, but in the end, Mary and Karen both have clear consciences because everything is out in the open and it's up to the supervisory staff to handle Bob's actions however they see fit.
Mary was commended for bringing the matter to the attention of the supervisor.
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DerbyDad03 wrote:

That's exactly how it should have went. Now they need to report it to the police because there may be a personal reason why he wanted that specific file, revenge perhaps for losing his job?
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The responding police officer might give them the contact info of an agency that handles such things. The police could do nothing. The best thing to do now that it is all out in the open is to just let it die, or let Bob escalate it, and cause only more trouble for himself. Mary and Karen are in the clear, management is advised, let it go.
Steve
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You'll say different when it turns out Bob is really Crazy Buffalo Bob. He's gotten hold of the address of the patient's family that he believes got him fired. Today's he come back to work wearing his ex-patient's carved off face as a mask, carrying a flamethrower singing the lyrics to CCR's "Proud Mary (keeps on burnin'). Hey, it could happen. (-:
I wonder just how many homicides are committed by DFE's (Disgruntled Former Employees). Whatever the number, it's clear some people don't accept termination gracefully. For social animals like humans, it's the equivalent of being run out of the pack.
-- Bobby G.
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