Cynthia A. Bremer & David McKinney of Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C. write:
The Kentucky Court of Appeals recently held that a hospital acted lawfully in terminating the employment of a nurse for violating the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). The nurse had been within earshot of other patients and medical personnel when she told her colleagues to wear gloves because a particular patient had Hepatitis C. The court’s decision makes clear that medical providers must handle HIPAA-related information with extreme care and that probable (not actual) disclosure may be enough to constitute a HIPAA violation—or at least serve as a basis for discharging an employee who makes an alleged disclosure. Hereford v. Norton Healthcare, Inc. d/b/a Norton Audubon Hospital and Phyllis Vissman, No. 2015-CA-001958-MR (Ky. Ct. App. July 21, 2017).
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