HIPAA violation or political revenge?


Here’s a good one from WLBT News in Mississippi.

Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour wrote this on his Twitter page, “Glad the Legislature recognizes our dire fiscal situation. Look forward to hearing their ideas on how to trim expenses”.

An administrative assistant at the University Medical Center School of Nursing who had apparently heard from several UMC employees that the governor scheduled off-hour appointments for medical care then twitted back: “Schedule regular medical exams like everyone else instead of paying UMC employees over time to do it when clinics are usually closed.”
Several days later, the administrative assistant was accused of violating HIPAA laws and was “encouraged to resign.”

C’mon. The administrative assistant was passing on second hand information and didn’t even mention the governor by name.
And besides, it’s not like she told the world that Haley Barbour was going to a psychiatric clinic appointment to learn how not to make stupid suggestions on his Twitter page.

The hospital is stretching HIPAA laws way too far. False and/or uninformed allegations of HIPAA violations are becoming the new quick and easy way to get rid of employees. The lawyers providing the hospital with advice should be the ones fired.

Am I violating HIPAA if I redisclose that Lindsay Lohan is in rehab? I am a covered entity and the fact that she is/was in rehab is protected health information. How is this different from the Haley Barbour case?
Oh yeah, guess my job is in jeopardy because I mentioned that Conrad Murray provided propofol to Michael Jackson.
Oh, and I saw a patient … in the gift shop at my hospital … buying … throat lozenges … for a sore throat! Shhhhhhh. Don’t tell.
Then my car got hit in the parking lot, but I couldn’t call my insurance company to file a claim because, according to MUMC attorney logic, it is a HIPAA violation to disclose that the patient’s car was in the hospital parking lot.
So when families call University of Mississippi looking for a patient, do hospital operators tell you “we can neither admit nor deny the existence of this patient in our facility” to avoid further HIPAA violations?

Hey – rules are rules. [eye roll]

P.S. Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour allegedly goes to the UMC clinics after hours and the University has to pay overtime to employees for his routine physical examinations. Pass it on.


  1. “So when families call University of Mississippi looking for a patient, do hospital operators tell you “we can neither admit nor deny the existence of this patient in our facility” to avoid further HIPAA violations?” That’s happening here!

    Yet when I went in for an employment interview, they knew of my breast cancer diagnosis and stage! Now, how did THAT happen? Gee, did I mention I was treated at that hospital. Hmmm. If only I could write what I know.

  2. Midwest woman

    Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour was overheard saying at UMC that it was Sergeant Schultz and not Colonel Klink saying that…

    Oh crap. I just violated HIPPA.


  3. You physicians better go lightly on Haley. He’s one of your biggest tort “reform” backers, and he may be a Presidential nominee. You’ll be kissing his ass if so. Heck, I figured you all had already moved to Mississippi and solved their “access” problem! If not, why not?

    • Yeah, well, I think I also just tipped Nurse K to my true age, because I remember the Hogan’s Heros.
      Crap. This day is just not going well at all.

  4. Soronel Haetir on

    Given how I’ve been asked by local clinic staff about how (detailed item that was discussed at a previous appointment) worked out when I’ve seen them away from their work I do believe such violations are rampant. It’s hard to keep people from gossiping. But it’s also not something I’m very happy about. I would in fact prefer that facilities not pass out any patient info over the phone without performing some check like basic security privacy questions. In person you can more easily verify someone is who they claim to be for next of kin purposes.

    If medical care is to remain privileged the providers need to keep their damned mouths shut, the right belongs to the patient not the medical staff.

    In the specific case above, perhaps the public face of the leak wasn’t responsible for keeping the information private. In that case someone else at the facility has far too loose lips and there would still be a violation. Given a reality that gossip is impossible to stop a rule prohibiting such releases as a blanket facility rule seems like a viable alternative.

  5. I totally agree this was a HIPPA violation. Every day we have individuals enter the emergency department of our hosptial for treatment and are later released without full admission to the hospital. If I were to go on FB or Tweeter and reveal that person had been a patient in our ED, that would be the same thing as this lady revealing that this Governor had been a patient in this clinic. They are under medical care and there for anything involved in during that care is protected information, including the very fact they are a there.

  6. Dee Benjamin on

    what about when you go to an interview and they ask questions that you feel might violate HIPAA?
    Happened on my last interview when they asked for the persons name who was one of my teachers in a facility during internship. I didn’t give them the name as they had been fired and told them so…then pressed for the reason why….if I tell them even without names or time then just because of what it entailed it would be easy to figure out as it involved a patient…what do you do in that situation?

  7. How about the hospitals causing HIPPA violations. When doctor admit patients to the hospital, there is third party doctors calling on the admitting doctors asking them to change the patients admission from inpatient to outpatient or vice versa. These doctors are paid to make more bucks for the hospitals by allowing the hospitals charge patients differently. They are violating the HIPPA because this is purely financial gain purposes rather than helping the patient.

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