Not sure what to do...

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Not sure what to do...

Postby hopetherapy on Tue Feb 04, 2014 1:13 pm

Hello! So rather than trying to write paragraphs of the situation I'll just give some bullet points followed by the main questions:

A little background:

*I'm a new LMT, I just got my MA# last week.
*A few months ago my instructor, Sam (name is changed for privacy) offered a room rental to me in his new practice (it just opened in January) once I graduated and had my license.
*Other students were doing it and it all seemed legit. so I said I'd do it.
*I asked the school if I could start a mailing list so that my clients who were interested in following me could get updates once I was out of school. The powers that be at school said I could.
*My clients were more than happy to give me their information. It was an informed and consensual giving of personal information.

The issue:

***A few weeks ago I was making up some hours in weekend clinic and witnessed a girl taking down email addresses and phone numbers from client intake forms. When I asked her about it she said that Sam had said it was OK, they were going to use it to promote Sam's new practice but asked me not to tell anyone at the school (yes, the alarm bells in my head went off!).
*The client forms were being pulled from the file drawer at random and the clients did not know/give consent to anyone in the school to have their information used for this purpose.
*She was NOT copying soap notes or medical information, just contact info.

*I don't know how to bring this up irl because everyone I would ask knows who I would be taking about.
*I brought it up to Sam that day but he said not to worry and that everything was fine. He said he even talked to someone at school about it (which left me wondering why I wasn't supposed to say anything).
*I didn't bring it up sooner because quite frankly I didn't want to be a rat, I wanted to rent the room and I wasn't sure if it was really a big deal.
*now that I've had some time to think about it I realized I'm not sure I agree with it ethically! I don't want to be guilty by association and it makes me question some other choices he might make in the future.


*Is gathering information this way legal? Even if it is, am I wrong to think of it as unethical?
*I don't think it is but, is this in any way a HIPPA violation? or *just* a privacy violation?
*If a client complained what kind of action could be taken against Sam?
*Am I making a mountain out of an ant hill?
*There are a few other issues that I'm going to talk to Sam about before I rent the room but I want feedback on this particular issue.

If you all would be so kind as to bring your thoughts to the table I'd really appreciate it.
Thanks!
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Re: Not sure what to do...

Postby jdcan on Tue Feb 04, 2014 2:39 pm

What does your gut say?

What are your other options?
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Re: Not sure what to do...

Postby JLWmassage on Wed Feb 05, 2014 10:29 am

Frankly I am surprised your school clinic gave you the ok to contact those clients. Most clients who get a massage at a student clinic won't follow you unless you plan on only charging what the clinic charges.

If you feel this business owner is being shady then I would just run away. And let the school deal with that teacher.

The school is going to find out because a client(s) will say something to the director. Clients tend to be loyal to a location.
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Re: Not sure what to do...

Postby RelaxandRejuvenate on Mon Feb 10, 2014 8:51 am

Forget the context of school and a practice you are going to work for.

What is the principle at stake here?

How would you feel if MTs that worked for you were taking down client info from your practice to help build their own?

Apply that same principle to whatever work situation you are in.

Whatever you decide are your ethics and no one elses, but be sure to act on them consistently.
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Re: Not sure what to do...

Postby hopetherapy on Wed Feb 12, 2014 10:16 pm

Thank you all for taking the time and offering your perspectives... Once things are settled I'll post my decision and the outcome! :)
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Re: Not sure what to do...

Postby MTSI on Sun Feb 23, 2014 3:36 pm

this is a great discussion. it often happens. i like most of the answers given here. this is really where personal ethics and morals come into play. there is a reason why ethics is part of the curriculum, as well as the continuing education offering.
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Re: Not sure what to do...

Postby JasonE on Thu Mar 06, 2014 10:43 pm

Sam is an instructor at a massage school.
Sam hires/rents rooms to new graduates of that school.

Right there, that is a major conflict of interest. I don't know of any ethical massage teachers who would do this. :irked:

A student at the school copies client contact information at random, without consent, and doesn't want the school to be notified.
Sam, the instructor, gave her permission to do so.

Copying client information without consent is illegal. Sam can not "give permission" to break the law. If the school clinic is subject to HIPAA, we're talking about a federal offense. :evil:

When confronted, Sam said he spoke to someone else at school about it, but you have not inquired to see if he was telling the truth.
Sam has a new practice, and the copied information will be used to promote his business.

This is so unethical and shady, I can't imagine ever working for/with Sam. He is breaking laws that put the school at risk. They are open to both criminal and civil penalties if this comes out. :smt013

However, if you don't say anything, Sam will continue to engage in these unethical behaviors, and thereby teach other MTs that it's "okay" to break laws and abandon professional ethics whenever it's more convenient than doing things the right way. :lipsaresealed:

If you really care about the profession of massage therapy, you must ethically take what you know to the school administrators first, and give them a chance to address it. This information should also go to the state board of massage therapy. :!: :!: :!:

While they are sorting out what they're going to do with the information, find an ethical place to practice and create as much space as possible between you and Sam. :massage:
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Re: Not sure what to do...

Postby alleycat_lady on Tue Apr 01, 2014 6:55 am

I believe HIPAA states that the contact information can be disclosed to any persons involved in health care, so I can see how that could be wibble-wobbled into Sam or student practitioners getting access to it. However, the school probably won't like him trying to steal their clients behind their backs. The fact that Sam doesn't want you to tell anyone sounds suspicious to me. I'm not sure it is illegal, but it certainly sounds unethical. I think I would try to find employment elsewhere. It sounds like foreshadowing into future unethical practices.
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Re: Not sure what to do...

Postby pueppi on Tue Apr 01, 2014 9:14 am

alleycat_lady wrote:I believe HIPAA states that the contact information can be disclosed to any persons involved in health care...


I don't think this is correct.

"The HIPAA Privacy Rule permits physicians to disclose protected health information to another health care provider for treatment purposes." - http://www.hhs.gov/hipaafaq/use/264.html

That is different than disclosing information to any persons involved in health care.
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