Author: Laurie Neal

Privacy Reminder: Snooping and Sanctions

E-Devices and Stethoscope

Pop Quiz Time!

You are allowed to look up a patient’s health records in the following circumstances:

A) You learn that your child's teacher has been visiting one of our clinics and grow concerned that something is wrong

B) Your coworker is on medical leave and you want to see if you can help

C) You hear about one of our patients in the media and want to make sure he’s okay

D) A local celebrity is an inpatient and you’re curious why she’s here

E) NONE OF THE ABOVE

The correct answer is E.

All of the above examples are forms of snooping.  “Snooping” means intentionally accessing or viewing anyone’s confidential information when you do not have a job-related reason to do so. Here are several reasons why you should think twice before you "snoop."

It violates HIPAA

As a reminder, the HIPAA Privacy Rule requires that we access, use or disclose only the minimum necessary amount of protected health information (PHI) to complete a work-related duty, and that we do so only when the PHI is needed for that specific task.

Per the HIPAA Privacy Rule and UConn Health’s minimum necessary policy, workforce members may not access medical information of family, friends, co-workers, students or others unless it is required for a specific work-related responsibility.

Confidentiality is a Patient Right

At UConn Health we take the privacy of our patients’ information seriously. Patients have the right to have their information kept confidential and expect us to protect their records against unauthorized access. It's also just not right to snoop. Period.

Activity is Monitored

The Office of Privacy Protection & Management actively monitors access to patient records to make sure we’re all doing the right thing.  We investigate further when we see suspicious activity or when we are made aware of a potential snooping situation.

Consequences can be Severe

Sanctions for snooping can include disciplinary actions up to and including termination from your position at UConn Health.  You also can be prosecuted in your individual capacity under civil and criminal law.

Remember,

You are prohibited from snooping no matter what the reason!

Questions?

If you have any questions, would like additional guidance or would like us to meet with your team, please call the Office of Privacy Protection and Management at 860-679-7226.  We are here to help you do the right thing!