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Wed Jul 8, 2020, 03:22 AM

I just found out today that another attorney in the firm found out his wife was exposed,

told only our HR director, and asked her to keep it secret that he was in quarantine. We have not been told when he was exposed. He last worked 6/25. On Friday 6/26 he felt ill but was not tested until sometime the following week. He told no one he was sick. He told the office today he just got his results and that he was positive.

The HR director said the “good news” is that we will be 14 days from our last exposure on Thursday. “Good news” that we did not know to be quarantined until the time was almost up? My 83 year old mom lives with me! I think I would like to freakin know he was exposed and sick! HIPPA means he doesn’t have to say he is sorry.

Let me ask you DU, do you think there should be an exception put into HIPPA concerning pandemic exposure related health information? What do you think of his actions?

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Response to Dustlawyer (Original post)

Wed Jul 8, 2020, 03:26 AM

1. it is HIPAA

his actions were extremely selfish an unncessary

people need to come clean about their covid status

HIPAA may need some adjusting to take covid into account, yes.

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Response to Dustlawyer (Original post)

Wed Jul 8, 2020, 03:33 AM

2. Yes, contact tracing is important in combating this virus!

And of course this was irresponsible and selfish!

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Response to Dustlawyer (Original post)

Wed Jul 8, 2020, 03:37 AM

3. Is HIPAA for the spouse of an employee override the rights and protections of others in a Pandemic?

That seems to be a task and answer that lawyers in a law firm should find out...

What if others in the firm had been exposed and contracted COVID as a result of this colleague’s wife and exposed others in their family and public? Clients?

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Response to Dustlawyer (Original post)

Wed Jul 8, 2020, 03:39 AM

4. I think his actions are despicable.. Lives could

be on the line. Impossible not to take it very personally.

And, Why wouldn't he let people know who he had been around? What's the purpose of not telling people/lawyers in his firm about his condition?

I hope everything is ok with you and you Mom, Dustlawyer.

Let me ask you DU, do you think there should be an exception put into HIPPA concerning pandemic exposure related health information? What do you think of his actions?

Yes! It's contagious!

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Response to Dustlawyer (Original post)

Wed Jul 8, 2020, 04:02 AM

5. For a pandemic that is not only deadly in a lot of cases, but also can still main anyone who

does survive it, I think we should make exceptions.

Back in the mid 90s, the local paper where I live used to publish the names of anyone who tested positive for HIV. That was preposterous to me, because by then, there were solid facts out even here about how to avoid getting it. It was patient shaming, in that case. I disagreed strongly with that.

So, HIPAA exceptions have been made in some cases before for all the wrong reasons.

For a pandemic like Covid-19, I can agree with an exception to the rule. It is far too deadly and/or can maim people who do survive it and far too serious to ignore. Exceptions in the case of Covid-19 would be the right reasons, to protect those of us who don't want to play Russian Roulette with our life and/or quality of life.

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Response to Dustlawyer (Original post)

Wed Jul 8, 2020, 04:08 AM

6. Persons/entities bound by HIPAA, or "Covered Entities" as the law calls them..

are generally related to provision of health related services:

- Health Care Providers
- Health Insurance Plans
- Health Care Data Clearinghouses

(https://www.hhs.gov/hipaa/for-professionals/covered-entities/index.html)

So, it's not likely that HIPAA was the reason that HR didn't provide the information to the rest of you. Also, the employee simply told HR about the situation: it didn't come from improper access to confidential records of any kind.

I'd be seriously pissed off at both of them.

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Response to Dustlawyer (Original post)

Wed Jul 8, 2020, 05:02 AM

7. We've definitely had TB scares at work where discretion rules

...but where you most definitely talk to those potentially impacted, pay for their testing, etc. That’s another disease that requires prolonged exposure, so you look for proximity and even how air flows from the ventilation.

The state actually gets involved in those cases, so maybe we are going to have to have a similar reporting requirement for Covid-19.

That’s scary as heck though, since you could have at least kept away from your mom during the quarantine period. We need a sound approach to this.



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Response to Dustlawyer (Original post)

Wed Jul 8, 2020, 05:04 AM

8. You are lawyers. Exposure liability is a real thing.

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Response to Dustlawyer (Original post)

Wed Jul 8, 2020, 05:29 AM

9. AIDS

This should be treated with the same vigor as AIDS when you didn't tell people you had sex with you were found guilty of murder. "General criminal statutes, such as reckless endangerment and attempted murder, can be used to criminalize behaviors that can potentially expose another to HIV and or an STD."

https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/policies/law/states/exposure.html

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Response to Snoopy 7 (Reply #9)

Wed Jul 8, 2020, 05:56 AM

10. lolz

yeah, no.

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Response to Dustlawyer (Original post)

Wed Jul 8, 2020, 06:48 AM

11. There's always intentional infliction of emotional distress.

By not giving you necessary information to protect yourself, your family, your friends, the withholding of this co-worker/attorney being exposed and possibly exposing you has brought you profound mental and emotional grief. The classic behavior that is deemed "outrageous." You had no choice but to be exposed. Makes no difference whether or not he was a carrier and you're OK.

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Response to Dustlawyer (Original post)

Wed Jul 8, 2020, 06:53 AM

12. Just an idea to throw out....

* Make it a requirement for employment at your company that if any employee has or believes they have a contagious disease, they are required to reveal it to company HR.
* Company HR would be provided access to one or more medical professional with which they could consult on what action should be taken to avoid spread of the disease to others in the workplace.
* Company HR would then decide whether to reveal to other employees any risk and corrective and/or preventative measures required, but only after revealing that intent to the sick employee.

It's bad enough that this disease can have carriers that are asymptomatic but even worse when people deny their moral obligations to reveal when they're feeling sick.

It's probably best companies encourage and perhaps even insist their employees be frequently tested for pandemic-level diseases, and companies should pay any costs incurred.

KY

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Response to Dustlawyer (Original post)

Wed Jul 8, 2020, 08:05 AM

13. Amazing how powerful stigma can be. He'd rather endanger all his colleagues

and all their families than “admit” to having been potentially exposed. And the firm went along with it.

Stupidity and amorality all around.

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Response to Dustlawyer (Original post)

Wed Jul 8, 2020, 08:16 AM

14. HIPPA has nothing to do with it.

There was no legal reason the company could not let everyone know the situation. They were hoping to bury it.

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Response to Dustlawyer (Original post)

Wed Jul 8, 2020, 08:26 AM

15. His actions are despicable, but I think you've also got a big problem with your HR director.

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Response to Dustlawyer (Original post)

Wed Jul 8, 2020, 08:38 AM

16. I'm no lawyer (ha!)

But I'd say at the very least, your firm and that lawyer should pay to test all those that were exposed.

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Response to Dustlawyer (Original post)

Wed Jul 8, 2020, 08:58 AM

17. This is going to be a giant clusterfuck in work places all over America

HR departments are in way over their heads trying to figure out what to do with this.

Something similar has happened at my wife's work and the employees are in revolt. The policies have been shifting all over the place.

At first they weren't going to tell anyone.

Then they decided to tell people who had identified vulnerabilities which is even worse HIPAA problem in my mind. This would require vulnerable people to disclose sensitive information to their employers in order to be included in the notification. Can you imagine having to tell your ultra-Christian boss that you were HIV+ just to try and protect yourself?

Finally, after the cat was out of the bag, they finally told everyone but would not identify who. So no one could tell whether they had been in contact with the person or not.

And all of this even assumes that the employee notifies HR. There is going to be a perverse financial incentive to hide illness/positive when it directly impacts someone's ability to earn a wage. It goes back to that old problem of not having enough support for paid sick leave because it isn't only for the sick person that we want them to stay home.

Individual responsibility is a whole separate issue here. If I was positive, I would waive my right to privacy because people deserve to know.

And this is only the summer time. We haven't even gotten to the busy times of the year where schools attempt to reopen and colleges convene.

What a mess.

And to answer your question, yes, HIPAA needs adjustment to account for the well being of others around you. It is the age old story of personal rights being limited when they can harm others.

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