55 answers

Odd Situation with Nurse- Should I Say Something to My Doctor?

Ok Moms:

I have an odd request and I am hoping to get tips on how to proceed.

Long story short, yesterday I was at my general practioners office and one of my symptoms was nauseau. So, she asked if I could be pregnant and I didn't think so, but for good measure she decided to run a pregnancy test. No problem. I also had to give blood. They call my name and I go in to give my blood. Well, the "nurse" (I'll call her that for this dicsussion but technically I think that her badge said medical assistant)was at the counter with her back to me and said to the other "nurse". "Well, her pregnancy test came back negative. That's good." The other nurse said, "How do you know she wanted it to be negative?" Then they proceed to have an entire discussion about my pregnancy test with the third woman who is taking my blood chiming in about the negative aspects of having children. Well, the nurse doing the test turned around and saw me and was visibly mortified, as she should have been. I just made light of it but I really thought that this was REALLY unprofessional. For all they knew, I could have been trying for a baby desperately or, God forbid, would they have behaved the same way if it was an HIV test? As you can see, I am frustrated by this, but I am torn on whether I should say something to my doctor? I am being treated for a chronic illness and I get my blood taken by these women at least once a month. So, it could be potentially awkward, but I also feel that under no circumstances should medical records be discussed.

Please let me know your thoughts.


What can I do next?

Featured Answers

This will probably make me unpopular, but I think you are overreacting a little bit. If you always go complain when people "offend" you are not going to be any better than the people who gossip. Maybe the woman was just annoyed with her kids that day that's why she said being pregnant could be bad. Yes, it was unprofessional to talk that way, but why are you stressing about it? Just let things go and try to have a sense of humor and you will be happier and healthier.

1 mom found this helpful

Guess this won't be a popular response, but people are people....they gossip, they break rules and she was unprofessional. However, if you need to say something, say it to HER! Why do people feel the need to "get someone in trouble".....times are tough. How would you feel if she was fired and couldn't care for her kids? I think that you have the right to feel any way you want to feel, but there's something to be said about not letting her bad judgement affect you.....sorry if this bothers anyone.

I hate to pile on, but you definitely need to alert the doctor. All three were acting unprofessionally and need to be alerted to the confidentiality issues they breached. To a certain degree they were lucky you were the one listening and not another patient...

More Answers

First, I am sorry you were embarrassed by this experience, it must have been uncomfortable for you.
As a medical professional, I can say that its not possible for your medical records to never be discussed among staff members in any facility where you get care. Its a team of professionals that work together with your doctor to get a result for you. Typically results are discussed to bounce things off each other and one or another may have and idea about what could be going on.
In reality it was only awkward because you were the one who overheard the conversation. Unless, of course, they mentioned you by name, then that would finger you as the patient and that would have been inappropriate, but not uncommon.
I had this happen to me after I had my oldest son and it was about an HIV test. I was in the special care nursery feeding my baby with my Mom. Earlier in the day they had drawn my blood for an HIV test (standard in OB deliveries at this hospital). The quote was "Make sure you tell Mrs. H--- that her HIV test was negative, I know she was worried about that!" !!!!!!! I was disgusted, and I was IN NO WAY WORRIED ABOUT THE RESULTS OF AN HIV TEST!!!!!!!!! I knew that they needed the results in order to discharge me, but that was all. Luckily there were no other parents in the nursery at the time, only my Mom. I resisted my urge to blast the lot of them, and calmly went to the desk and explained how I felt.
The point is, some sensitivity was needed in both situations and it can be gained with a gentle reminder that there are ears all over the office and their discussions and opinions are not just between them. If you do this and it happens again, then they need some re-training.
In response to all the responses that it is a violation of the HIPPA law, unequivocally NOT a violation of those laws. We are aloud to discuss test results with other involved staffers, however in public areas and if people over hear, well they just do, care needs to be used when using names. Sensitivity is what was lacking in this situation.

1 mom found this helpful

Horrific! Yes, say something and don't second guess yourself for one second!That conversation is screaming unprofessional and unethical. A medical facility is a place that we should feel comfortable and safe and those nurses violated that in a major way! It is not appropriate to have such a conversation at all let alone where any patients could have heard it. You don't go to the doctor to be judged, you go to the doctor for your health to be taken care of in a trusting and safe place.

I would write a letter so it is documented and send it to whom ever would be in charge of the facility and copy your doctor. Please don't worry for one second what will happen seeing these nurses after the fact. They were wrong and you saw that on their faces when they saw you. This is a perfect opportunity to stand up for yourself and say, "I don't think so!!"

What ever becomes of it, so be it but at least you can hold your head up and know that you stood up for yourself and reported an event that was very wrong.

Take care! Writing the letter is the right thing to do!

1 mom found this helpful

This will probably make me unpopular, but I think you are overreacting a little bit. If you always go complain when people "offend" you are not going to be any better than the people who gossip. Maybe the woman was just annoyed with her kids that day that's why she said being pregnant could be bad. Yes, it was unprofessional to talk that way, but why are you stressing about it? Just let things go and try to have a sense of humor and you will be happier and healthier.

1 mom found this helpful


With this you really can take their conversation in two ways. Yes they were very unprofessional about talking right there at the front desk. I think that maybe you should have asked the one nurse why did she fell that was a good thing that the test was negative so that she could explain. Not in a nasty way but in a nice polite way as if you had no problem with what she said.

Going to the doctor would probably may your visits a little more akward. Being that you are being treated for a chronic illness could be the reason that she thought the negative result was good. I am in no way taking their side because that should have been discussed in private, but sometimes we take things the wrong way with out questioning the right person. If she was put on the spot she could have explained abnd maybe it would have made you feel better, or she could have studdered and you would have the true answer if she was trying to be a smarty.

Your next visit if you are up to it pull the nurse to the side and ask her in a polite way, "you know I heard you say my test was a good thing that it was negative, why was that".

Absolutely say something...be direct, yet gentle. I have worked in healthcare for 13 years. Respecting confidential information is a ongoing obligation of the healthcare worker. Sometimes one can forget how sensitive this information is. The doctor needs to be aware how casual his/her staff is treating this information. Sounds like they are due for some inservicing on confidentiality!!

Try to speak directly to the doctor (by phone okay) or find out if there is a practice manager (someone who is at least an RN). I am confident that your concerns will be heard loud and clear. Another thought would be read the fine print of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act(HIPAA). I think that form lists a designated person to handle these type of complaints.

Please let us know how this turns out.

ADD: http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/privacy/index.html
Here is the government's website on HIPPA.

you should definitely mention it to the doctor. their behavior was unprofessional. plus, it is not their business!

I absolutely think you should say something to your doctor. Your doctor's office should be a place of safety and professionalism, and his staff are a package along with him. If I didn't feel safe and respected in his office as a whole I would consider changing practices altogether.

It was pretty ignorant of them to talk about it in a location that could be overheard like that. You can be pretty sure they won't have such public discussions in the future. That being said, they're not violating HIPAA rules if the information was only discussed among the personnel in the doctor's office. I'm sure that when you signed the privacy notice, it said something about health-care professionals, etc. not disclosing your information to other parties, though the medical facility is treated as a single entity, so they're not really an outside party.

People will always talk. You just happened to catch them in the act. It might make you feel better to address the nurse (or whatever she is) next time and ask her to please keep any conversations about private matters outside of the public arena. Because asking them not to discuss your medical information among eachother is a waste of breath. If the doctor says to do a blood test to test for X, and the nurse takes the order, she now knows that you're being tested for X. Then when she hands in the lab ticket, the lab technician knows you're being tested for X. She then reports the results back to whomever, and it's full circle. If only one person had access to your chart, you'd find that your doctor visits took hours.

Good luck, and don't let it get you worked up.

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