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  • HIPAA Violation??? Regardless... I am livid with E.R. nurses/Dr.

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    Old 06-27-2009, 09:02 AM   #1
    OneCharmedMom
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    HIPPA Violation??? Regardless... I am livid with E.R. nurses/Dr.

    I am 37 yr old chronic pain patient (lumbar fusion 1996 herniation L4-5 S-1; severe neuropathy in left SI joint and most of left leg and foot; most recently I have been treated for several ovarian cysts [2 ruptured and 3 eventually surgically removed) which have required several trips to the ER due to heavy bleeding and extreme pain. NOTE: Each time I went to the ER I spoke with my primary and/or OB/GYN and they insisted I go into the ER).

    OK...so my issue is this: I have a relative who works in the same hospital that I go into. This past week I was treated again for a new ovarian cyst. I was given IV pain and anti-nausea meds, blood and urine tests. An ultrasound was performed (which confirmed that the cyst had grown very little from the previous week.) My relative told me that a nurse told her that they think that I am a drug seeker. She also said that they think that I am making my symptoms seems worse for pain meds.

    I have been on and off opiates for years but I always am able to come off of them. I was on oxycontin for about 4 years and then it was my idea to stop because I felt oversedated. It was a choice. The past 2 years I have taken norco or percocet here and there for back flare-ups and the ovarian cysts. I know that it seems like a lot to people who do not take meds, but for chronic pain sufferers, it is easier to understand, that is why I came here.

    Now, having been dealing with chronic pain for so long I understand the judgements but this really makes me mad, and it hurts my feelings. Not to mention it simply is not true. I have been under the same pain management physician for 14 years. It is not to say that hearing the ER nurse say this does not take me by complete surprise, because I know that chronic pain patients are difficult to treat for pain. I have a low pain tolerance and high tolerance for pain medecine. I also know that doctors and nurses receive very little training on pain management/chronic pain in med/nursing school. So most of their experience comes from on the job and it IS from true drug seekers. So in their defense, I can see where they are coming from. But just because my pain level may be a 9 when someone with the same injury has a 4, should I be penalized? I mean I already suffer pain daily....

    However, if the doctor had a problem he should have said something to ME (I was right there) or my husband who was also right there. PLUS, he should not have given me pain meds if he thought that I was only seeking medication.

    Also, the nurse should have NEVER approached my relative about my medical information. That is private. Right? I'm sure it happens all the time, but it doesn't make it right.

    I am going to go down to the ER and speak directly to the doctor and the nurse and find out exactly the context in which they intended and let them know my history. Because odds are with my history of cysts and kidney stones I will very well be back in there someday and I would like to clear the air. My husband wants to speak with an attorney, but I am not the 'sue happy' type...I just want them to know that I do not appreciate them speaking to other people (even relatives) about my medical affairs.

    What do you all think? If anyone would have an unbiased opinion it would be someone who lives with chronic pain....others have no idea, even those who are educated about it.


    Feel free to tell me if I am wrong....

    Thanks so much! I am just so furious about this.....

    Last edited by OneCharmedMom; 06-27-2009 at 06:20 PM.

     
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    Old 06-27-2009, 07:49 PM   #2
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    Re: HIPPA violation from E.R. DR/RN? please help!! (moved from C.P. board)

    I don't think that contacting an attorney makes you "sue happy". I would NOT go to confront them at the hospital. In my opinion, something in writing, directed to the proper person at the hospital would carry much more weight.

     
    Old 06-27-2009, 08:08 PM   #3
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    Re: HIPAA Violation??? Regardless... I am livid with E.R. nurses/Dr.

    You can't sue for HIPAA violations anyway. The law is enforced by the Federal Government. There's a complaint process followed by an investigation and a decision about whether to proceed with enforcement.

    I'm sorry that this happened to you. The nurse behaved inappropriately.

     
    Old 06-27-2009, 08:58 PM   #4
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    Re: HIPAA Violation??? Regardless... I am livid with E.R. nurses/Dr.

    thanks for replying, that is good to know. i never had intentions of sueing anyone, but i felt it was extremely inappropriate behavior.

     
    Old 06-27-2009, 09:38 PM   #5
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    Re: HIPAA Violation??? Regardless... I am livid with E.R. nurses/Dr.

    Hello,

    I am sorry that this happened to you and unfortunately it happens way to often. I do have a question about the comment the nurse made. Was the nurse saying that is what she thought or that the drs, nurses, etc...in the ER thought that? Since you seem to have a great relationship with your pm dr, I would speak to him about what happened. If the dr at the er thinks this, your pm dr could possibly shed some light on your situation to the er staff, so this would not happen again. It may help the next time you have to go (I hope you don't), but your pm dr may personally know the er doc and that could help you in the long run.

    I agree that the nurse should not be speaking to your family about your condition, situation or anything else for that matter. That is private information and I am assuming your relative does not anything to do with your care at the hospital, right? If she is not involved in your care, then I do feel like it is a violation of your privacy!!!

    I agree that different people deal with pain in different ways. You are right about that your pain feels like a 9 during these times and others its' a 4, like you said everyone's pain tolerance is low. I think about it this way...some women can have their babies naturally with no meds, I am not one of those people. Maybe I am a wimp but during the birth of my two kids, I could not have imagined doing it without meds. I thought I was dying with meds and I just can not see how some can do it. More power to those women that do. It just shows that some people can tolerate pain better than others!!!

    I hope everything works out for you and please let us know what happens.

    Take care,
    A

     
    Old 06-28-2009, 03:34 AM   #6
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    Re: HIPAA Violation??? Regardless... I am livid with E.R. nurses/Dr.

    Considering what you went through, I think that a meeting with the doctor, and your husband, would be a great idea. If nothing else it would clear the air and help them to see exactly what your situation is. They broke the rules and they should apologise for it. I've had these sort of meetings in the past and they have always gone very well. I must say that I have always approached them respectfully and without anger. If anyone is to play bad cop, it is best to be your husband. You may not be able to sue them under HIPPA legislation but you can certainly sue for libel. I wouldn't suggest that you do this but if they become rude, it's something that your husband could bring up. Usually though, they'll try to avoid confrontation and you may actually be able to build a good relationship with this dr by approaching him. I don't know if I'd bother with the nurse though, you may not see her again and the doctor would likely speak to her anyway.

    I strongly believe in standing up for your rights and talking with someone can be a lot less confrontational than a letter, especially if you approach them saying 'I'm sure that you didn't mean to say this .... but you gave my relative the impression that I am a drug seeker and I'm very disturbed by this', 'could you please tell me what actually happened ...' and then I'd explain your situation to the doc.

    Good luck, I'm so sorry that you went through this. As this is a hospital you visit regularly, you shouldn't have to worry about this next time - stress only makes pain a lot worse.

    Good luck, please let us know what you decide to do.

     
    Old 06-28-2009, 10:59 AM   #7
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    Re: HIPAA Violation??? Regardless... I am livid with E.R. nurses/Dr.

    It sounds like you have two problems. First, the doctor (or ER) may think you are a drug seeker, and two, the nurse told your relative about care you sought at the hospital.

    The second problem seems much easier to deal with. The nurse should not have told your relative about ANY care you have received at the hospital, whether for pain or anything else. If this is true, the nurse should be immediately fired. Hospitals are supposed to have zero tolerance for HIPAA violations. Honestly, I would not tolerate this at all and would call the hospital security officer (they all have one) and file a complaint.

    The other problem related to the belief that you are drug-seeking is harder. Others will probably have better ideas about this than I do. I work in a field where I routinely encounter drug addicts. Some of them have legitimate medical issues, but there is always a suspicion. Now, I AM NOT SAYING YOU'RE A DRUG ADDICT, I just know that when someone believes you are, there is not much you can do to convince them otherwise. They will think that everything you say is related to your drug-seeking. If you try to convince them that your pain is real, they may think you are just trying to talk your way out of it and convince them to give you more meds. Rough situation, indeed.

    If it were me, I think I would tell my doctor(s) what you were told and maybe ask if they would call the ER doc and inform them that you sometimes need to visit the ER because of intense pain, and tell them what dosage you are on, etc. It may come across better if it comes from another doctor.

    An attorney will not be able to do anything for you if the ER thinks you are drug seeking. There is nothing illegal about a doctor having a suspicion about this, but it is totally illegal for the nurse to make any comment about your care (or that you were even treated in the ER) to anyone not directly involved in your care.

     
    Old 06-28-2009, 11:09 AM   #8
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    Re: HIPAA Violation??? Regardless... I am livid with E.R. nurses/Dr.

    You have every right to be livid about this!! Since this was a nurse that said this to your relative, I would talk to the Director of Nursing. Medical personel learn from day one that you do not talk to others about your patients. This was true WAYYYY before HIPAA laws came into effect. For example, if I work @ the hospital, and my mom's sister is admitted, and is my patient, I am not even allowed to go home and tell my mom that her sister is in the hospital. This is Nursing 101. Unfortunately, there are those that don't practice what they learn--janiee08

     
    Old 06-29-2009, 12:57 AM   #9
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    Re: HIPAA Violation??? Regardless... I am livid with E.R. nurses/Dr.

    but you do understand ppl are ppl and they are gonna talk. ppl in the medical community talks,, just like anyone else..

    your relative work in the medical part of the hospital?? or are they in the running of the hospital(maintanance) or something,, it could fall back on your relative telling u this.. if they are in the medical part of the hospital..

    they medical community talks just as anyone else,, like me and my condition,., if i end up in the Er and am in extreme pain and they give me pain meds,,, so be it,,, i know whats up with me not someone who dont know me..

    when they put everyones job on the line ,, everyones just gonna say it wasnt said,, and who's gonna say it was,, ur relative that will be jobless.. this could also compramise ur care next time u go,,

    i understand ur position being 3 spinal surgeries and PAIN from them.. its hard to knock ppl that dont honestly know u,, put urself in they're position,, what would u think?

    i hate they treated u this way,, and hope u get it sorted out,, it would be easier for ur pain doc to talk to the other doctor.

     
    Old 06-29-2009, 05:02 PM   #10
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    Re: HIPAA Violation??? Regardless... I am livid with E.R. nurses/Dr.

    wow, you guys have made me feel better. i actually just returned from my pm this afternoon and it was very productive. we have decided on a few things:

    -we have decided to change primary doc, ob/gyn etc...perhaps if i actually have primary docs who can treat me in a way that my body requires, the er visits will cease....hopeful thinking. however, the new primary doc is a former chronic pain and spine specialist and has known my pm for many, many years. (part of the er problem that has always been an issue is that my pm is located more than an hour away from me so the er docs do not know him. however, as those of you who have suffered for many years with chronic pain know - once you find 'your' pm doc it is almost impossible to start over from scratch with another pm. for me it has been over 14 years and we have been through graduations (was not easy to finish school in constant pain), the death of my mother and other loved ones, break-ups, my wedding, the difficult pregnancy and even more difficult delivery of my son....etc) Anyway, my point is that i believe that having my primary doc and pm consulting together would make a world of difference. there is also a high risk ob gyn in her group (we are still hopeful for another child) and i would deliver at stanford medical center. so, i think that this will be a better fit for me.

    -he agreed that the nurse violated hipaa. however, i could never jeapordize my relatives job. even though when i asked my relative more about what was said, she immediately became very nasty and the conversation took a 180 turn into personal issues. it is sad because i have always looked up to her and she took my situation and made it all about her (not worth mentioning here.) i do not need that baggage - i have enough to deal with.

    to answer a question about my relatives job at the hospital...she had nothing at all to do with my medical care. there was no reason for her to be informed of anything. however, i do understand that people talk and this happens everyday, more than it should. it is wrong though.

    i am going to try and put it to rest and move on....not sure if i can but i am going to try. if something happens and i end up back in the er, and with the same dr. i may have to call him out on it...i don't know...honestly i don't know. the bottom line is that i do not want to jeapordize my relatives job, regardless of our falling out. she may be vindictive, i, however am not.

    thanks again for all the support and words of wisdom.

     
    Old 06-29-2009, 09:46 PM   #11
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    Re: HIPAA Violation??? Regardless... I am livid with E.R. nurses/Dr.

    It looks as though things are going to get better for you. It is really great that you have a great pm dr. I have only been in pm for a little over a year and it has been difficult at times, but I do feel as though things are getting better, relationship and my pain.
    Good luck on everything!
    __________________
    Take Care
    A

     
    Old 06-30-2009, 03:42 AM   #12
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    Re: HIPAA Violation??? Regardless... I am livid with E.R. nurses/Dr.

    Hey OCM, I'm glad that you've come to some sort of decision, taking any action in any way helps.

    I just thought I'd let you know that whenever I go to the ER I always tell them who my PM dr is. He's a brilliant advocate and tends to 'yell' at those that question his orders or his patients. I have also gotten to the point (there is one particularly bad dr at the ER) where I call him on his decisions and I've actually told him that I don't think he even understands empathy (I wouldn't recommend this lol but I was in sooo much pain). He said last time I was in that he wasn't going to give me any pain meds - the issue was that I wasn't in there for pain meds! Anyway, the issue progressed (twisted bowel) and I needed pain meds, he again said that he wouldn't give me anything more than I already took so not to get any ideas into my head (I hadn't asked for anything at this stage). Well, I snapped and asked him to go and get another doctor or nurse, bring them into the room and say that again. I also asked him to ring my PM and liver surgeon and tell them the same thing. He was ok after that and gave me pain meds later on when I needed them. He wasn't nice and he can't stand me (or any other cp patients according to the nursing director) but he treats me if he has to. I guess that what I'm saying is sometimes it's the right thing to stand up for yourself - especially if you're out of options.

    I do my best not to have to go to the ER but it happens, probably once or twice a year. I always try to be polite as possible but as i said, with this doc, if he says something horrible or unprofessional, I wouldn't hesitate to call him on it and ask him to bring someone else into the room (as well as my partner). This is usually enough though I did have to tell my PM as well on that one occassion. I hope that you find a good doc and you can reduce your ER visits, that's going to make things a whole lot better right away and aleviate some of your stress. As far as your relative goes, I'd probably try and steer clear of her knowing anything about your medical care - she obviously doesn't get it and doesn't want to. I'm sorry you went through that.

    Kind regards,

    J

     
    Old 06-30-2009, 09:30 AM   #13
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    Re: HIPAA Violation??? Regardless... I am livid with E.R. nurses/Dr.

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by OneCharmedMom View Post
    wow, you guys have made me feel better. i actually just returned from my pm this afternoon and it was very productive. we have decided on a few things:

    -we have decided to change primary doc, ob/gyn etc...perhaps if i actually have primary docs who can treat me in a way that my body requires, the er visits will cease....hopeful thinking. however, the new primary doc is a former chronic pain and spine specialist and has known my pm for many, many years. (part of the er problem that has always been an issue is that my pm is located more than an hour away from me so the er docs do not know him. however, as those of you who have suffered for many years with chronic pain know - once you find 'your' pm doc it is almost impossible to start over from scratch with another pm. for me it has been over 14 years and we have been through graduations (was not easy to finish school in constant pain), the death of my mother and other loved ones, break-ups, my wedding, the difficult pregnancy and even more difficult delivery of my son....etc) Anyway, my point is that i believe that having my primary doc and pm consulting together would make a world of difference. there is also a high risk ob gyn in her group (we are still hopeful for another child) and i would deliver at stanford medical center. so, i think that this will be a better fit for me.

    -he agreed that the nurse violated hipaa. however, i could never jeapordize my relatives job. even though when i asked my relative more about what was said, she immediately became very nasty and the conversation took a 180 turn into personal issues. it is sad because i have always looked up to her and she took my situation and made it all about her (not worth mentioning here.) i do not need that baggage - i have enough to deal with.

    to answer a question about my relatives job at the hospital...she had nothing at all to do with my medical care. there was no reason for her to be informed of anything. however, i do understand that people talk and this happens everyday, more than it should. it is wrong though.

    i am going to try and put it to rest and move on....not sure if i can but i am going to try. if something happens and i end up back in the er, and with the same dr. i may have to call him out on it...i don't know...honestly i don't know. the bottom line is that i do not want to jeapordize my relatives job, regardless of our falling out. she may be vindictive, i, however am not.

    thanks again for all the support and words of wisdom.

    i firmly understand the position your in,, i hated they treated you that way. but people are people and they do what people do,,,lol,, i dont worry so much about what ppl say and never have,, i'm glad you sorted it all out ,,, try not to worry about it.. they DONT know you and your situation... they are just ER docs,,

    Last edited by broke as a joke; 07-01-2009 at 01:36 PM.

     
    Old 06-30-2009, 09:51 AM   #14
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    Re: HIPAA Violation??? Regardless... I am livid with E.R. nurses/Dr.

    I am sorry that you didn't file a complaint with the hospital and let them investigate and take care of the issue. You don't owe us or anyone an explanation of your need for pain meds and you are correct doctors get maybe an hour of training on pain meds and nurses get none. Nurses have absolutely no clue nor should they judge or comment on the care of people in the ER. In any hospital across the nation if a nurse comments on a patients health care to another they are automatically fired...as that nurse should be. Perhaps if you had a written complaint through the hospital administration they would of sent their ER staff to education classes. Of course it is your relative that should never of told you

     
    Old 07-01-2009, 01:38 AM   #15
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    Re: HIPAA Violation??? Regardless... I am livid with E.R. nurses/Dr.

    AnnD makes a really good point. When I had my liver surgery and was back on ward one of the nurses was really funny about giving me more oxy even though it was written up by the anasthetist, I was in a lot of pain one night and said, look it's written up, if you have a problem then please call the anasthetist because I need pain med and you are obviously uncomfortable with giving it to me. The anasthetist was so annoyed with that and other issues, that he had all the full time nurses on that ward complete a chronic pain program, minimum of one full day. He said to me that he gets sick of being questioned but it's worse when a nurse brings it up with a patient because it just makes them stressed and their pain worse. I guess he was probably also grumpy at the 11pm phone call.

    If someone won't treat me now, and I know that they're not doing the right thing, I just tell them to ring whoever is involved - anasthetist, PM etc, whatever time it is. It's been done a couple of times now and the doctors have never been upset with me and told me that I did the right thing. PM is difficult enough, if a doctor doesn't know how to treat your pain or won't treat it then he/she needs to speak to your PM. It shouldn't be your problem, nor should they discuss it with you and make you feel guilty. It's just a bit of advice from my anasthetist that has really helped me.

     
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