A local volunteer singing group performs in the activity room of a long-term care facility. The group’s leader asks the nurse if they may take a photo of themselves with several of the clients. The nurse gives permission to the leader, who then posts the photo on Facebook. Upon notification of this situation, the facility administration immediately terminates the nurse. What Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) violation did the nurse commit?

  1. breach of confidentiality
  2. failure to seek administrative approval
  3. unethical conduct
  4. unprofessional conduct
Number 1 is correct.
Rationale: In allowing the outside group to take a photo of the clients, the nurse committed a breach of confidentiality. Each client must give consent to be photographed and have the picture posted on social media. Failure to gain such consent is a serious violation. Had the nurse obtained administrative approval for the photograph, it would have been inadequate as only an individual may consent to have her image taken and shared with others. While the nurse failed to act in the best interest of the clients, the conduct is not necessarily unethical or unprofessional according to HIPAA.