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Dimitry K., Esq.
Dimitry K., Esq., Attorney
Category: Legal
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Experience:  Multiple jurisdictions, specialize in business/contract disputes, estate creation and administration.
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A friend works at a hospital as an RN. Last thursday he had

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A friend works at a hospital as an RN. Last thursday he had an episode at work where he stopped breathing and became incoherent. Now, he has been revived and is still in the hospital. This morning, the chief nursing officer notified him that he is being referred to the state nursing board because of the possibility of him "coping" with his job by taking too many of his medication. Now, no one knew about the medications he had been taking, and he did tell the nurses during admission but has told no one else and was put on a "No pub." To see that he was on these medications, the CNO would have had to look into his medical records. Now, he said that the board will investigate as taking care of patients while under the influence of something. Is it legal for the CNO to just look into her medical files without consent? Furthermore, what recourse do we have, legally?
Thank you for your question.

That is a very good question. Does the RN work in the same family and same department that took him in for treatment? Did he consent to the attending to hae them look into his file and records?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

No, the RN works in a completely different unit, however, the accident occurred at work triggering a rapid response to the ER. No, he never consented to have anyone look into his personal file.


I am likely seeing this as no violation based on this argument. Here is why.

Your friend had an episode and became incoherent. When someone becomes incoherent, the nursing unit and the doctors are permitted to apply care and to make whatever life-saving decisions they deem necessary to ensure that your friend's life and health is stabilized. That would permit the on-call parties to look up his medical records, and potentially contact the CNO (who, being the supervisor, can be asked to evaluate or take part in care for in-house patients). Since the CNO is then acting in the scope of her duty and employment, that would permit her to look up medical records and assist with care, or provide the nurses with additional otherwise confidential information pertaining to how stabilize an assist your friend.

I agree that simply going into his file may be a violation of HIPAA since only supervisors have a right to know about medical conditions disclosed to the employer, but in an emergency situation, under the guise of saving a life or stabilizing his status, the nursing unit could review medical information if it was deemed pertinent or useful for his care. At least that is how I see the hospital legitimately justifying their decision.

Good luck.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

The issue is that he was put back on stable last thursday when the episode happened. The CNO did not make her response apparent until today, so I don't see how it would be in her scope since he was brought to a stable condition almost immediately after the episode happened.


I appreciate your 'poor service' rating. It appears that this rating was given because my professional opinion disagreed with yours. It is fairly tough for me to provide you with an honest response if you end up essentially punishing me for being truthful with you. In addition, the CNO is in charge of both nurses on staff--that gives her the right to look into his medical file, or rather his employment file if it has a medical affidavit and review such information. This wasn't a subordinate or a co-worker, this was a boss who could most definitely review such information if it was provided to the employer before the episode. This is therefore not a violation.

Good luck.

Dimitry K., Esq. and 8 other Legal Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Did you receive my response?


My apologies but I did not. Could you repost please?

(My apologies on the delay responding, I was not ignoring you, I was online and did not see this subsequent post, thank you!)