Let's say I'm the admitting hospitalist. I stop admitting patients at 7pm. Well, it's 5pm and I'm done with my admissions, and I'd like to know the possibility of me getting another admission(s) before 7pm.
So I check the ED list and see there's 15 patients roomed. All I can see are names, ages, chief complaint (sometimes there, sometimes not), and arrival time. I see there is an 82 year old with chest pain, that arrived about an hour ago.
As everyone knows, "chest pain" in an ED setting can lead down MANY paths. If the patient's cardiac enzymes, pain characteristics, response to treatment, or ECG are concerning, I know they're probably coming in. If not, they may be going home. And if they are coming in, and it's getting towards the end of my shift, I'd like to be a bit prepared so I can finish the admission promptly before my relief arrives for their busy night.
So, would it be a HIPAA violation if I were to open the chart, look at the test results, and read the ED note to prepare myself for the possible admission?
What if the chief complaint isn't even listed, or does that make a difference?
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