Could I be fired due to a HIPAA breach?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Could I be fired due to a HIPAA breach?

I’m a registered nurse in a military hospital and recently my supervisor was admitted. I accessed her medical records even though she wasn’t assigned to my care. Any information that I read wasn’t shared with anyone. I was contacted by the hospital compliance officer in regards to the situation and I gave her my statement. This occurred over a month ago and I have not heard from

her nor my access or accounts have been blocked and I’m still in my position doing my daily chores. I’m concerned of losing my professional license and any other consequences. I don’t have any warnings or job related improvement plans.

Asked on April 29, 2019 under Employment Labor Law, Texas


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

If you have a union contract which prevents you from being fired for this reason, or which requires some defined disciplinary or hearing process before termination, you have whatever rights the contract gives you. Otherwise, except to the extent you are protected by the plain terms of a contract, you may be terminated (or otherwise disciplined: e.g. demoted, pay cut, suspended, etc.) at any time for any reason, including a mistake like this. Employment in this nation is "employment at will" except as modified by a contract.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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