Sara is a new graduate nurse orienting on the medical floor at a large teaching hospital. She has been working on the floor for two weeks and notices that many of the nurses provide shift handoff reports to one another outside of the patient rooms. Sara asks her preceptor why the nurses stand and report patient care information in the hallway. Her preceptor responds that this is the standard way staff can meet the agency guidelines for beside handoff reporting without “disturbing” patients while they are resting. Sara has concerns about this action on many levels. What legal repercussions might this “hallway reporting” have?
Sara is smart to identify that discussing patient care information in a hallway outside of patient rooms may jeopardize patient HIPAA protections and confidentiality. Sensitive patient information should never be discussed freely where others may overhear care information and details. Additionally, the act of bedside handoff reporting is meant to provide an inclusive environment for patients to participate with care staff in the report and information exchange. Discussing report details outside of the patient room does not actively include the patient in the bedside reporting procedure.