If a former employee talks about patients

March 16, 2007

A nurse who resigned from my practice a few months ago has been gossiping about some of our patients. She's divulging specifics about their health problems. Could I be held liable for an ex-employee's breach of patient confidentiality?

Q: A nurse who resigned from my practice a few months ago has been gossiping about some of our patients. She's divulging specifics about their health problems. Could I be held liable for an ex-employee's breach of patient confidentiality?

A: Probably not, because she's no longer your employee. However, as in any situation where the possibility of a lawsuit exists, you should alert your liability insurer to what's going on. Their attorney might advise you to send a letter to the nurse asking her to stop talking about patients and warning her of the consequences of violating confidentiality laws. If any further steps are necessary, he'll let you know.