Q&A: Discussing a coworker's illness at work

June 27, 2019
Medicare Web

Q: Is it a HIPAA violation if it is discussed among coworkers why another coworker left work early for being ill? 

A: Generally, no. It only becomes a HIPAA violation if the coworkers attempt to, say, look up the ill coworker’s medical condition in the EHR or ask the ill coworker’s medical provider for information about the coworker’s illness. From a human resources perspective, though, it is not a good practice, especially if the coworkers who are talking about the ill coworker work in the human resources department.


Editor’s note: Question answered by Chris Apgar, CISSP. Apgar is president of Apgar & Associates, LLC, in Portland, Oregon. He is also a BOH editorial advisory board member. This information does not constitute legal advice. Consult legal counsel for answers to specific privacy and security questions. Opinions expressed are those of the author and do not represent HCPro or ACDIS. Need expert advice? Email your questions for consideration in the Revenue Cycle Daily Advisor. Note: We do not guarantee that all questions will be answered.

Related Topics: 
Ask the Expert, HIM/HIPAA, HIPAA