I just got a new job, a nursing co-op at a hospital. When I was going through my health and drug screening I had to answer questions like what meds I was on. Obviously the nurse doing my screening realized I had diabetes (as if my visible site wasn't hint enough). She asked the usual questions like type 1 or type 2, how the pump works, and what do I do when I take a shower or swim. After all the chit chat she stated that I was required to let my unit know. I ALWAYS let people know I have diabetes just in case and usually in a large group so I can get all the same questions out of the way. But required? I sat there thinking about that word: required.
ugh I don't like that word. I generally prefer not to disclose, but in this case I guess you have to.
I have always tried to keep my diabetes hush, hush, especially on my job.
Me too... and I find that hard to believe you are REQUIRED to disclose ANY health information...um HIPPA.
Agree. HIPPA laws relate to patients not employees for an organization. Laws regarding safety trump everything. Even in the links provided by the Americans with disabilities act and the EEOC links there are specific examples where it is legal for an employer to ask questions about an employees diabetes status when safety is a factor.
I wouldn't want a nurse administering a medication to me where an error could be dangerous or fatal while their blood sugar was 52. Once the low was corrected and they were thinking straight no problem carry on.
This is an Americans with Disabilities issue, not a HIPPA issue. You do not have to disclose information about your diabetes to your employer. If you choose to do so, that is your choice but your employer cannot require it.
Yes, an employer can ask questions under certain conditions. Here is the clause from ADA:
The ADA strictly limits the circumstances under which an employer may ask questions about an employee's medical condition or require the employee to have a medical examination. Generally, to obtain medical information from an employee, an employer must have a reason to believe that there is a medical explanation for changes in the employee's job performance or must believe that the employee may pose a direct threat to safety because of a medical condition. (See Question 6 for other instances when an employer may obtain medical information.)
4. When may an employer ask an employee if diabetes, or some other medical condition, may be causing her performance problems?
If an employer has a legitimate reason to believe that diabetes, or some other medical condition, may be affecting an employee's ability to do her job, the employer may ask questions or require the employee to have a medical examination.
Example: Several times a day for the past month, a receptionist has missed numerous phone calls and has not been at her desk to greet clients. The supervisor overhears the receptionist tell a co-worker that she feels tired much of the time, is always thirsty, and constantly has to go to the bathroom. The supervisor may ask the receptionist whether she has diabetes or send her for a medical examination because he has a reason to believe that diabetes may be affecting the receptionist's ability to perform one of her essential duties sitting at the front desk for long periods of time.
5. May an employer obtain medical information from an employee known to have diabetes whenever he has performance problems?
No. Poor job performance often is unrelated to a medical condition and should be handled in accordance with an employer's existing policies concerning performance.
Medical information can be sought only where an employer has a reasonable belief, based on objective evidence, that a medical condition may be the cause of the employee's performance problems.
Example: A normally reliable secretary with diabetes has been coming to work late and missing deadlines. The supervisor observed these changes soon after the secretary started going to law school in the evenings. The supervisor can ask the secretary why his performance has declined but may not ask him about his diabetes unless there is objective evidence that his poor performance is related to his medical condition.
6. Are there any other instances when an employer may ask an employee about diabetes?
An employer also may ask an employee about diabetes when an employee:
has asked for a reasonable accommodation because of his diabetes;
is participating in a voluntary wellness program that focuses on early detection, screening, and management of diseases such as diabetes.(4)
In addition, an employer may require an employee with diabetes to provide a doctor's note or other explanation to justify his use of sick leave, as long as it has a policy or practice of requiring all employees who use sick leave to do so.
For me, the lne is "must believe that the employee may pose a direct threat to safety because of a medical condition" is the concern.
I get it. We know there are dangers with diabete that can lead to catastrophic results. Does that mean that I'm required to tell an employer that I have diabetes if I have responsibility over other peoples lives? I don't think so. It is incumbent upon me, as a diabetic to insure that, with reasonable accomodations, I am performing my job satisfactorily.
By requiring me to disclose that I have diabetes, me and my employer both agree that diabetes, in and of itself, is a danger or will affect my performance. That's exactly what the ADA was written to protect employees from.
Same here. I told the PA in Occ health at the request of my Dr. but no one else on this site of 1,000 staff know about it. I've only told two non-medical people about it; one of my sisters, and a friend who sometimes stays with me for over a week. Kind of hard to hide it for that long, plus she has a T1 brother and sister.
If you were an accountant that would be one thing, but being in the medical field I imagine there are different requirements.
I work in the health field and I've NEVER been required to disclose ANYTHING regarding my diabetes.
Pardon my essay! I'm delighted you're in nursing. Normally "required" is said by the person hiring, or by the supervisor.
I look at "required" as a means to ensure when the action is fast and heavy, other nurses who find me dazed will put 3 half-glucose tabs in front of me and say, "Take these," -- because I told them that's how much I will need when I was hired. It's when there's a lot on our mind that we miss the little clues ourselves. This requirement provides needed backup and safety for everyone.
I look at it the same as I looked at being required to take a chest x-ray every year of my school and working life - I was TB+ from age 8, after having lived with my grandfather who had TB. It was the professionally required thing to do.
When people can be put in danger due to a health worker's status, it is incumbent on the health worker to take specific actions that provide backup or that mitigate.
Our finest hours come when we carry out the actions that show we're professionals.
And that same requirement goes for everyone, the pharmacist, the anesthesiologist, the ER physician.
Your supervisor should not "require" this of you. This should be a corporoate policy. Individuals should not go around making stuff up. You are within your rights to ask to see the policy. If your company is large enough, it also is required to have a corporate officer who is responsible for assuring compliance with the laws governing discrimination (particularly the Americans with Disabilities Act). And in this case, unless your job falls into an area where diabetes presents an issue in you doing your job (like commercial airline pilot), asking about your diabetes and "requiring" that you divulge private health information to your coworkers represents discrimination.
If you are not satisfied with the answers you get about policy, it would be appropriate to seek out your corporate EEOC office or EEOC officer and tell them what has happened. Generally, your EEOC office will be your friend, their job is to make sure the company obeys the law and if they don't they will take whatever corrective action is necessary. The last thing they want is an EEOC problem. If you are not satisfied, then you can certainly escalate it.
You may be told as a nurse that you are in a profession (like pilot) which requires disclosure as it affects your ability to function at your job. But that is different than just being told you are required to divulge private information for no reason.
I actually don't think you can be required to disclose. There are certain jobs that legally "require" one to disclose certain health conditions (like diabetes) because of the risk (pilots, truck drivers, etc), but I don't think nursing falls under that requirement. You should call the EEOC and ask. I am curious myself. If you disclose your health status to a whole unit, you're essentially giving up a significant amount of medical privacy. This could have implications not just for your current position, but also for any future jobs. I would seriously call the EEOC and inquire about this. In addition, I would ask that nurse who informed you of this to provide some sort of written information that requires disclosure. And I might take the opportunity to remind her that the information she learned during your physical is (as far as I know) protected health information.