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RobertJDFL, Attorney
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If three radiology techs are talking in hosp cafe, in regards

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If three radiology techs are talking in hosp cafe, in regards XXXXX XXXXX case for educational purposes, no names or verbal identifiers used, should all three techs get fired for hipaa violation?
Thank you for your question.

Although HIPAA does not address this problem specifically, its privacy principles reinforce the professional commitment to use care in such situations to avoid unintentional disclosure of information. It is a HIPAA violation to discuss or disclose enough information about a patient that another person not related to their care would be able to figure out who it was.

If there were no indentifying factors or names used, and no way for anyone overhearing to be able to deduce who the patient was, this would not appear to be a HIPAA violation.

That said, did these radiology techs have an employment contract or collective bargaining agreement? In the absence of these things, they would be considered at will employees, meaning they could be terminated at any time, for any reason, with or without cause, so long as it was not done for an unlawful reason (e.g., because of their race, age, sex, religion, disability or national origin).

Thus, whether they were fired for a HIPAA violation or not, rightly or wrongly, if they are at will employees, they can be fired for any reason just the same.
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