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HIPPA or Privacy violation?
Jun 15, 2005

I have been with my employer for almost 5 years. I suffer from Hemochromatosis and Diabetes so I require intermittent leave for treatments. Per the DOL my company is in violation of FMLA matters with me, but yesterday something happened which makes me wonder if HIPPA or privacy violations may have occured. I have been corresponding to get my FMLA status corrected in discussions via email with the Occupational nurse for Connecticut (located at our Home Office in Ohio). She had sent me a response at 8:36am on Monday and I responded to that at 10:40am. My note contained very detailed,priavte medical info that was intended for her alone (as the occupational nurse for). Her response, at 10:45 am, was that my request was forwarded to the new occupational nurse. She also carbon copied my note with that private info on it to a nursing specialist at another company of the enterprise. If the old nurse informed me there was a new nurse, I would not have sent the info to her. Would there be an obligation to inform me immediatley that she is no longer my nurse/contact? Also, is it ok for her to forward the same medical info to others? Thanks, Jerry

Response from Ms. Breuer

As I understand it, she's one of the company's occupational nurses, and as such, when you pose a question about FMLA leave to her as a representative of your employer, you have a reasonable expectation that she will respect your confidentiality. Sharing your question with a colleague who is bound by the same confidentiality laws that bind her is not, as I see it, a violation. Both people represent the company in the same job function. Both are health professionals who are expected to conform to HIPAA. Unless they disclose your information to someone who is not an occupational health nurse within the company, they appear to me to be acting appropriately.

For a legal opinion, which this is not, you would need a lawyer.



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