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I am a therapist that works in a skilled nursing facility. I…

Customer Question
I am a therapist...

I am a therapist that works in a skilled nursing facility. I was forwarded an email with patient names/DOB that are in our facility and we get on a weekly basis for case management purposes. However, I noted a second tab at the bottom of the excel spreadsheet that contained a significant number (>1000) of our referring hospital's patients (first and last name), DOB, Med Record Number, diagnoses, hospital adm and discharge date, and patient ID. I verbally informed our compliance office and owner yet they ignored me. I recently forwarded this email with the attachment to my spouse out of concern and to protect myself. Yesterday I was fired for forwarding that email to my spouse. I'm very scared and not sure what to do at this point? It was initially forwarded to the administrator at the facility I work at. She then forwarded it to 10 facility employees.

Lawyer's Assistant: Because employment law varies from place to place, can you tell me what state this is in?

Delaware

Lawyer's Assistant: Is the employment agreement "at will," union, full time or part time?

I have worked there 17 years. Delaware is an at will state of employment

Submitted: 6 months ago.Category: Employment Law
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Customer reply replied 6 months ago
I just want to clarify that the initial email was sent from the hospital to our facility administrator. The 'sheet' with the thousands of names from the hospital was on that email. The administrator forwarded it to facility staff because they needed the information on the second sheet...list of @ 10 names....I was fired because I sent this email to spouse.
Answered in 44 minutes by:
11/29/2017
Employment Lawyer: John, Employment Lawyer replied 6 months ago
John
John, Employment Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 5,987
Experience: Exclusively practice labor and employment law.
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Hi, thanks for submitting your question today. My name is John. I have over 13 years of legal and consulting experience in this area. I’m happy to assist you with your question today. Please note that the website may ask you if you desire premium services, such as a phone call. I do not control these prompts, and you are not under any obligation to order premium services to get a full answer from me. If you do desire premium services, however, feel free to select that option. I will have an answer for you shortly, unless I require additional information. Please be patient while I may have to research some matters before providing a response. In the meantime you should save the url link or bookmark this webpage in case you become disconnected and need to return to this page at a later time.

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Employment Lawyer: John, Employment Lawyer replied 6 months ago

If you had filed a complaint with an external agency, ie DHHS, before sending it to your spouse, I'd be of the opinion you have a case for wrongful termination/whistleblower retaliation. However, you only reported internally first, which does not afford you the protection of the law. You still can report to DHHS, because this is a mishandling of significant protected health information under HIPAA....frankly though it could be perceived (an argument could be made) that you committed a HIPAA violation when you forwarded it to your spouse.

S for what to do at this point, you need to seek new employment. I'd try to learn what the facility does as far as providing references. If they are like most these days, they only provide dates of employment, the last position held and sometimes salary. Hopefully, they will not state the reason for your termination. Your logic for sending health information to your spouse made sense at the time, but if you're a prospective employer it may not make sense. In short, you need to do as much as possible to ensure the damage from that is mitigated.

I believe this answers your question. However, if you need clarification or have follow-up questions regarding this matter, I will be happy to continue our conversation - simply reply to this answer. If you are otherwise satisfied with my response, please leave a positive rating as it is the only way I am able to get credit for my answers (even though the website already charged you, it does not credit me with the answer unless and until you indicate you are satisfied with the answer). If you are on a mobile device, you may need to scroll to the right. Thank you, ***** ***** wish you all the best with this matter.

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