The charge nurse notices another nurse on the floor reading the chart of a client who is not under her care. When confronted, the nurse says, “This client is my neighbor, and I’m just concerned about him.” Which is the correct response by the charge nurse?

  1. “As long as you don’t share any information, it’s okay.”
  2. “Why don’t you just let his nurse update you on his status?”
  3. “You should not be reading the client’s chart if you are not involved in his care.”
  4. “Go with the doctor when he rounds on this client so you will be able to answer the family’s questions.”
Number 3 is correct.
Rationale: This nurse is guilty of a HIPAA violation regarding client privacy. Even though the nurse and client are neighbors, no one other than those providing direct care to the client should be viewing the client’s medical record, including lab results or progress notes. A nurse should only access the records of her specific clients. Even if the information is not shared with anyone else, viewing nonclient records still violates HIPAA. Asking the client’s nurse for information is also inappropriate. The nurse should not round on other clients with the physician. HIPAA violations are grounds for dismissal and disciplinary action by the state’s board of nursing. Nurses must exercise due diligence in protecting the privacy of all clients.