Health Information Technologies and Processes

EHR Snooping

  • 1.  EHR Snooping

    Posted 03-17-2020 14:49
    Hypothetical Scenario:

    Patient is seen at Hospital A and was treated for a ID. Patient is then transferred to Hospital B to be treated for other chronic diseases. Physician documents H/o of ID but patient is not placed on precautions or isolated since it was treated at Hospital A. Staff who also treats the patient  from Hospital B caught wind that patient had history of ID and went through the record to verify this information. Staff then relayed information to other staff. Staff state they were in the right to know of any patient DX.

    1. Although the staff provides care to this patient, was staff in the "right"?
    2. Are all staff privy to all diagnosis such as this case?
    3. If this is a case of snooping?

    Thanks in advance for any feedback

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    Susie Furtado
    Health Information Management Officer
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  • 2.  RE: EHR Snooping

    Posted 03-17-2020 15:38
    Hi Susie,

    In my opinion, this case is no different than staff snooping to see if alias Jane Smith was actually Celine Dion or Jennifer Lopez, it was wrong and a HIPAA violation.

    (1) Just because the staff provides care to the patient does not mean they were in the right to look through the medical record for specific information about the patient.  The information contained within the medical record is on a "need to know basis" as related to those assigned to care for the patient, and relaying the information found in a patient's medical record to the rest of the staff is a direct HIPAA violation.
    (2) All staff is not privy to all diagnoses such as this case.
    (3) This is a clear case of snooping.


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    Donna Pritchard, BSHS HIM, RHIA LPN
    Instructor, Health Information Technology
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  • 3.  RE: EHR Snooping

    Posted 03-18-2020 08:43
    Along with what Donna said, if records were needed from another hospital,  they should have obtained them correctly.  Just because we all have access to records, does not mean we can view them. 

    Victoria Maans, RHIT