While on a travel assignment, it’s natural to want to talk to coworkers in order to forge new friendships. After all, that’s one of the great perks of working as a healthcare traveler – you have the chance to make new friends all over the country.
But unlike many other places of business, the topics open to you as a healthcare worker are more restricted than for people who work in other fields: the Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act (HIPAA) restricts the way healthcare professionals may communicate with patients, their loved ones and with coworkers.
The right to privacy is one Americans take very seriously.
As healthcare professionals, when it comes to your patients’ health information, it’s your ethical obligation to respect those privacy needs, yet doing so is becoming more and more difficult today because of increasingly advanced technologies, new rules and new laws/services in healthcare (the Affordable Care Act).
As a healthcare professional, you hear about and witness conditions and events that should be kept confidential. Yet we can become so comfortable with that information – it becomes just another part of our day-to-day lives – that it can be simple to forget that that information needs to stay private.
Even when you think you’re being discreet, you could be giving out too much information.
For example, have you ever been in an elevator with coworkers as well as some visitors to your hospital or clinic and have you discussed a patient’s situation? Sure you have! And you made sure not to mention the patient’s name. But how specific were you about the patient’s case. The more detail you discuss with coworkers in a public place, the more your conversation comes dangerously close to breaching patient confidentiality.
At a bare minimum, you should never discuss patient information with coworkers where other people – even coworkers, let alone the public – can overhear the discussion, such as in elevators, hallways, a cafeteria, and so on. Even if you don’t use a patient’s name, refrain from speaking about a case in a public area.
Your particular profession’s national and even regional association undoubtedly has more information about how to speak with colleagues about patients and their care; refer to your association for more specific tips about keeping patient information confidential.
What can you talk aboout?
Feel free to talk to your assignment colleagues about tips regarding what to see and do in your assignment city, invite them over to your apartment for a pizza or out to a movie after work. Talk to them about their family, their goals for their career. Just about anything is fair game – so long as you work hard to maintain patient confidentiality
Whether you’re a pharmacist, an RN, a PT, OT, speech therapist, or other allied healthcare professional, if you’d like to learn more about being a healthcare traveler, contact the recruiters at MedPro Healthcare Staffing. Send us your resume/CV today.