Am I going to be booked for HIPPA violations?
April 16, 2012 2:34 PM Subscribe
Part of my job involves conducting phone surveys for public health/medical research. My employer wants me to start using the Emergency Contact info in the electronic health record to increase our response rate. This weirds me out. Help!
posted by anonymous to Law & Government (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I'm a research assistant for a group working at a children's hospital. Part of my job involves calling people and asking them to do follow-up surveys. My success has been limited, and my boss, a physician at the hospital, told me to call the people listed as Emergency Contacts in the electronic health record and ask for an updated phone number for the subjects. I said I wasn't comfortable doing it, and that if I, as someone's emergency contact, was called about something like this, I'd be really freaked out. Some of the parents I've talked to have been worried by my calls, and they were the ones to sign the consent forms, so I imagine the reaction from the ECs to be even worse. (I.e., "Oh my God, what's wrong? Is she okay? Do I need to come to the hospital?") My boss brushed me off, saying that it was fine, and that the emergency contacts were used to stuff like this because, as part of a low-income community, their family members are often moving/ gaining and losing phone service.
This still squicks me out, and more importantly it seems like it might be a HIPAA violation, especially if I stick to the script and identify myself as being from the Center for Scurvy* Research and I'm calling because a year ago, Child's Parent agreed to participate in a survey about Child's scurvy.
How do I address these concerns? Do I go to HR? The IRB? Is there a relevant section of HIPAA law that addresses a situation like this? Or am I beanplating it, and should I just do as my boss says?
*Not actually what we study.