Is this a HIPPA Violation?

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by On_Call, Nov 7, 2006.

  1. On_Call

    On_Call New Member

    It was necessary to hospitalize difficult child on October 27th. I took him to the ER for the psychiatric evaluation and it was my wish that he be admitted to the childrens' psychiatric ward, which he was. He was completely unstable and that was the best outcome we could hope for that he got a bed in the psychiatric hospital closer to our home.

    First, they put him in under "involuntary status", which I did not agree with and requested it be converted, which is in the works. Papers have already been signed, etc. I don't know why he was admitted this way - and no one can tell me. They said he should not have been processed that way.

    Secondly, yesterday my Mother got papers for the regional office of mental health asking her to fill out information regarding difficult child's assets, insurance info, etc. I was so upset. There is no reason that my Mom should have received anything for this hospitalization or any other matter. She is listed as our "next of kin" for emergency reasons, but that is it.

    I called the ER Hospital - they confirmed all of our information, etc. and determined it was not their mistake. I called the psychiatric hospital and they say that it was not their mistake. I have tried to call the State office of mental health, but immediately get a recording to leave my name and number, which I've done twice with no result.

    The psychiatric hospital social worker said it is a form that is required because the State will pick up the balance of their bill that our insurance might not cover.

    The thing is - NO ONE can tell me why my MOTHER got it. It is infuriating to me. My Mother and I are very close and she is one of my biggest supporters, but what if she wasn't? What if she did not agree with our handling of the situation and difficult child's care? What if we were estranged? She never should have gotten this document - or any other.

    I want the problem fixed - obviously there is a glitch in someone's system, but whose? And, how do I go about fixing it? They are so concerned about HIPPA violations and yet . . .

    I don't want to leave it as is - you never know how this might effect things in the future. Once something is left wrong in the system, it is wrong forever!!

    Anyone have any advice on this one?
  2. OTE

    OTE Guest

    oh ....grrr.... just lost a very long reply!

    Anyway, I agree with you that this error is probably arising out of mistakes on the admission paperwork. Presuming that the ER hospital did that paperwork I'd go to their financial aid office and ask if they sent this to the state. Where the financial aide office is varies by how big the hospital is. But if there's an ER they have to have one. Start with the billing dept and ask how you apply for financial aid. I'm assuming that you did not apply for financial aid at all.

    Best I can figure from what you say is that someone checked a box saying that your child is in CPS custody with your Mom as the foster parent or physical custodian. That's the only way I can figure that they would ask ONLY for your son's income and assets. If he were in either your or your mother's legal custody (on their paperwork) they'd be asking for your or your mother's income and assets as well.

    On the involuntary thing... the Medicaid thing could be arising out of that. Somehow this involuntary thing could be indicating that the child was put in the hospital against your wishes, ie via a court order which took physical custody from you giving such to CPS. And with that emergency contact they somehow conclude that the child is in your Mom's custody? This is the only scenario I can think of that would generate the medicaid application sent by the hospital to the State resulting in the letter to your Mom asking for the child's info only.

    Is it a violation of HIPPAA? Yes, but it would be determined to be the result of a clerical error and they would have no liability. Clerical errors are allowed and you'd have to prove the error were the result of reckless behavior on the hospital's part (eg no supervision of employees), fraudulent behavior of employee, hospital's refusal to resolve problem previously pointed out to them (reckless behavior), etc, etc. Would be hard to do. So forget it, you're right but it's not worth pursuing other than to call the state hospital licensing people and file a formal complaint for a clerical error. Not likely to get you anywhere either but if it makes you happy...
  3. On_Call

    On_Call New Member


    Thanks for the reply. Being a secretary myself, I certainly understand about clerical errors. lol.

    However, in this instance, I mostly just want it corrected, you know?

    I called the er hospital first - spoke with patient admitting, medical records, their mental health dept. - each taking my information and then transferring me on to the next extension. GRRR! Finally, the last person I left a message with I used the term "HIPPA violation" and finally they took me seriously. They still cannot tell me why it was done, but they investigated all of their records and have confirmed and/or corrected their records. psychiatric hospital said their information was correct, too, so mysteriously no one knows why this is what it is.

    I have been advised to fill out the paperwork and return it to the State with a letter of explanation and the request that they respond back to me, confirming that their records are correct.

    I actually should thank God that you can't be arrested for a clerical error. :rofl:

  4. OTE

    OTE Guest

    Well let's see if it happens again. I always wonder when I talk to someone on the phone if they're really doing what they say they're doing.

    Did you find out why this info was requested with only your son's name on it? I can assure you that there's no way they're NOT going to ask for you and your husband's financial info. This is a Medicaid application and it's based on family income, not just the child's. It would be just the child's if it were an application for medicaid for residential placement. But this is a hospital bill.

    I think using the words HIPAA violation is great! LOL
  5. On_Call

    On_Call New Member


    No one can tell me why this was, except to say that, apparently, if there is a balance due after our insurance pays their portion, that Medicaid picks up that balance?? I'm not sure I buy that, but I was advised to fill it out and send it in - using only difficult child's "assets" - and return it to the department with a letter, explaining that husband and I are responsible for difficult child - not my mother. I too do not take much stock in the fact that they said this would fix the problem.

    I should put on the form that difficult child has about $10.00 in change in his piggy bank. lol. I would, except that I'm sure those sending out the forms probably do not have much of a sense of humor. hee hee.

    Yeah, the words "HIPAA Violation" certainly changed the course of their actions. lol.