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Dwayne B.
Dwayne B., Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 33925
Experience:  Employment Law Expert
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Employment law question- I believe I recently by accident

Customer Question

Employment law question- I believe I recently by accident committed a HIPPA violation at work. Patient called his MD office and stated he had some concerns because when I made phone call interview to him, I had mentioned another patient's name while trying to confirm that I had the right patient. When asked by my supervisor, did I mention the other patient's name, I reported that I had not. This was a true statement because as for as I can recall at the time, I had not. I make multiple calls during the day and often times, I cannot remember verbatim conversations with patients. My supervisor spoke with nurse at MDs office and she states the patient gave her the name of the other patient I mentioned. When asked how did the patient get the other patient's name I answered I did not know---- why I don't know, nervous and stressed I guess. Now it appears that I am lying. I've been under a lot of stress lately due to office politics (which my supervisor has investigated and dealt with in my favor). In retrospect, it's a good chance I did mention the patient's name while trying to confirm I had the correct patient. No other information was mentioned such as: ssn#, date of birth, address or diagnosis. I know this will be HIPPA violation, even though it was not done intentionally. I need to know if I can be fired over this I've never had any employment issues before and have always received excellent performance evaluations.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Dwayne B. replied 2 years ago.
Hello and thank you for contacting us. This is Dwayne B. and I’m an expert here and looking forward to assisting you today. If at any point any of my answers aren’t clear please don’t hesitate to ask for clarification. Also, I can only answer the questions you specifically ask and based on the facts that you give so please be sure that you ask the questions you want to ask and provide all necessary facts.
What state is this in? Also, are you working under any type of contract?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Virginia and no contract
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Full time employment
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Hello are you available to answer my question? I need an answer by the end of the day as I will be returning to work
tomorrow (7/13/15).
Expert:  Dwayne B. replied 2 years ago.
I'm here, I was just offline for a while.
Unfortunately, the answer to your question is yes if there was no contract specifically prohibiting the termination. VA is what is known as an employment at will state which means an employer can terminate an employee at any time and for any reason other than one like race, age, gender, etc. That means if they believe a HIPAA violation occurred, or if they believe you didn't tell the truth, or if they just decide they want to terminate you then they are legally allowed to do so.
Many people are under a mistaken impression that they have more rights as an employee than they have. Since so many people have that belief I wanted to be sure I gave you a link that confirms what I am telling you so here is the link to the VA Department of Labor that confirms the law:
I am truly sorry to give you what I am sure is bad news, but please understand that it would be unfair to you (and very unprofessional of me) to provide you with anything less than a completely honest response. However, if your concerns were not satisfactorily addressed, then please let me know, and I will be happy to clarify my answer. Please remember to rate me based upon whether I answered your question, and not upon whether the answer was good news or bad news since I have no control over whether the law is in your favor or not.