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Rn employment and HIV records
Jun 15, 2005

Dear experts,I am seeking employment with a large hospital in the Philadelphia, PA area as a RN. After hearing how some of my peers talk about HIV positive patients I dare not reveal my status at this time.The problem is I was in the same hospital's emergency room 6 months ago as a patient at which time i revealed my status to the intake nurse. Although i am applying in an entirely different part of the hospital (sub acute) could they somhow get a hold of my emergency room records ? i know it sounds crazy but a response would be greatly appreciated. Thank you

Response from Ms. Breuer

This kind of chatter must really try your patience. You know that you have no obligation to disclose to your peers, of course. And they know that the laws governing confidentiality restrict their cruising in medical records to cases in their own service, and for good medical reason. That doesn't guarantee anything, of course.

I recommend talking with the human resources person who hires you, assuming you're hired. Without revealing your diagnosis, explain that you have been treated at that hospital and have medical records there, and wonder what prospective colleagues' access to those records might be. Can she assure you that your privacy will be respected?

She has two challenges: making sure that employees observe the HIPAA laws on confidentiality, and dealing with the RNs' attitude problems concerning patients with HIV. Unless you decide to confide in her someday about the remarks, she probably won't know about her employees' attitude problem regarding HIV.

Poor Philadelphia. First the movie with Tom Hanks, now this. Sounds like the need for workplace HIV education is still alive and well.

Good luck on the application. If you get the job, you have the chance to think about whether you want to be a catalyst for more education or just a happily-employed worker. Either choice is fine.



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