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Nurse keeps patient names confidential, gets fired

A nurse has filed a retaliation claim against her former employer, stating hospital officials fired her because she refused to give law enforcement officers names and addresses of patients who had tested positive for COVID-19.

What if she would have complied with law enforcement’s request?

The nurse states that had she provided the information as requested, she would have violated many laws, including federal and state laws that protect patient privacy. One specific argument is the fact that providing the information could have been a violation of the federal protections under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

She further states that had she violated these laws, she would likely have faced disciplinary actions from the local nursing board. This could lead to a suspension or even revocation of her nursing license — further supporting her decision to refrain from giving enforcement officers the requested information.

Why did the enforcement officers request the information?

 

They argue that the information was important to help emergency response teams who respond to 911 calls. They state it would help to know if they were responding to a home that had a COVID case so they could take proper precautions.

What is the goal of the lawsuit?

These types of lawsuits can help the nurse get the job back, receive payment of lost wages and coverage of attorneys’ fees and court costs. They also send a message to the employer and others in similar situations, helping to deter future wrongdoing and better ensure employees are treated well.

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