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can you ask patients questions when volunteering?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by pharm1234, Jul 25, 2006.

  1. pharm1234

    pharm1234 Member
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    When volunteering if a patient starts talking about their illness without you asking them about it can you actively participate in the conversation; ask them questions about their illness: diagnosis, treatment, etc. if they are willing to share?
     
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  3. xanthomondo

    xanthomondo nom nom nom
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    Not in anyway, in fact if they volunteer advice you're supposed to take the conversation away from the subject

    Making the conversation go even more is a strict violation of HIPAA
     
  4. ADeadLois

    ADeadLois Senior Member
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    No, unless you want to get fired.
     
  5. Depakote

    Depakote Pediatric Anesthesiologist
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    I know I'd start talking about my disease to the first random person to walk through the door.
     
  6. jackieMD2007

    jackieMD2007 ***MVI***
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    Ditto to everything everyone already said. When you're volunteering and are in patient contact, you are non-medical staff. You are there to provide company and sometimes a service (play a board game, bring books/newspapers, etc), to be a distraction from the whole "hospital experience" and to brighten someone's day. If they want to talk about their illness or their treatment or whatever, you can't stop them, and you should be a caring confidante (and keep their information confidential) but should not ask questions or probe them. Patients that have no visitors or nearby family tend to need to talk more than others. Sometimes if they get really in the thick of it you can let them know that there are social workers/chaplains and others on the care teams who may be able to resolve their problems.
     
  7. riceman04

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    :thumbup:
     
  8. ADeadLois

    ADeadLois Senior Member
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    Agreed. Also, patients (particularly elderly ones) might not understand your role as a volunteer. Sometimes they might confuse as a doctor, so if they share their condition with you they might think that you are trying to help them.
     
  9. jackieMD2007

    jackieMD2007 ***MVI***
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    Right. This is why it is important for you to be in your proper volunteer garb with your volunteer ID, etc at all times, and also to state to patients right away YOUR NAME and that you're with the VOLUNTEERS. :)

    ADL, I wouldn't be surprised if we volunteer at the same hospital(s)... :)
     
  10. xanthomondo

    xanthomondo nom nom nom
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    how long did it take to get your background checks?

    mines been going on for like a week and the hospital still hasnt called
     
  11. kypdurron5

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    I would appreciate if you could show me exactly where this is, because as of now I must disagree with you. If a patient knows that you are a volunteer and still wants to tell you about their medical condition, there is nothing wrong with listening. It's true that you must keep that information confidential, but it would be no different than someone you meet in the mall telling you their condition since they know you are not a medical professional. HIPAA's first goal in this regard is to protect the privacy of patients (and their personal health information - PHI), and thus applies to not sharing that information with others. There is a second part about giving information, but again, the rules apply to the person GIVING the information, not the one hearing it (unless they re-give it). The closest thing I can think of is the part about not giving information to anyone who does not need that information, but again, this applies to healthcare professionals...not patients. Saying "take the conversation away from it" sounds more like something a hospital would tell you as a new volunteer, because the hospital doesn't want you to have too much information so that you become a liability to them (if you don't observe HIPAA).

    In addition, as a volunteer you may not be considered a "healthcare professional," but you are bound by HIPAA. That's a good thing though, because it means that when you obtain PHI as you inevitably will...it's ok, because your observance of HIPPA guidelines means you will not share that information with others. And many times it IS necessary for you to obtain information on patients even as a volunteer; you need to know which patients cannot take anything by mouth, which patients have AIDS, which patients cannot be moved etc. These things relate directly back to what their condition is/what treatment was performed. I agree with what people have said here...you cannot go up to someone and ask them to tell you about their condition. However, there would be nothing wrong with making sure someone understands you're a volunteer and listening to them volunteer information about themselves...it's their information, they have the right to do whatever they want with it- including share it with a volunteer or their pet rock.
     
  12. jackieMD2007

    jackieMD2007 ***MVI***
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    Ummm...we had a lot of stuff to do like go to a big corporate orientation, get photo ID's, etc, and when we filled out apps we agreed that they could do the background check, so the check didn't hold me up, the rest of it did. I think I applied in Feb 04 and actually started (after training and everything) in May.
     
  13. ADeadLois

    ADeadLois Senior Member
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    Don't forget the TB tests.
     
  14. jackieMD2007

    jackieMD2007 ***MVI***
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    Oh yes. And they gave me an MMR booster, too!! :laugh:
     
  15. DoctorPardi

    DoctorPardi In Memory of Riley Jane
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    I had to go through all that crap to take this emt class. Two step tb skin test, tetnis shot, meningococcal vaccine, hepititis titer, chicken pox titer, MMR titer. I got blood drawn, a tb skin test done and two shots in one day lol. Then I had to go back and get another tb skin test done a week later lol.
     
  16. Pose

    Pose Senior Member
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    When I first volunteered at a hospital, I swear it was a longer process to get started than when I began working as a tech in an ED.
     
  17. jackieMD2007

    jackieMD2007 ***MVI***
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    Well at least I know I don't have TB!! :laugh:
     
  18. xanthomondo

    xanthomondo nom nom nom
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    Haha I've got all of that done so far, orientation and the million tests and ID and everything, they said the only thing theyre waiting on is the background check

    what the heeeckkk
     
  19. LizzyM

    LizzyM the evil queen of numbers
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    Let me suggest that you try to understand the patient, not the pathology.

    How did you feel when you found out?

    How did you decide what to do?

    Why did you choose this hospital? your doctor?

    What helps you take your mind off of things?

    Do you have a favorite vacation spot?

    (look, you've managed to change the subject....)

    HIPAA means that you can not share information that a patient gives you but it does not prohibit a patient from providing you with information. Some people enjoy talking about their illness, the tests, the treatments, their doctors, etc and if your job is to listen, you can certainly carry on a conversation. Some people have few, if any, visitors, and it is helpful for them to be able to go over things aloud with someone who is willing to listen.
     
  20. kypdurron5

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    Thanks for posting here Lizzy, I value your input and completely agree.
     
  21. geno2568

    geno2568 Senior Member
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    while the patients arnt always approachable, i'v found that the doctors are easy to talk to

    also, when i was volunteering, i asked the docs if i could follow them around, and they all said yes

    of course, when the volunteer director found out i was shadowing them he got really pissed

    but whatever...i got a lot of shadowing in before that happened
     
  22. kypdurron5

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    Hehe, exactly! Isn't "getting fired from a volunteer position" a bit of an oxymoron anyway? >)
     

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