Thank you.To add onto Thomas' response, I would advise providers/nurses who get into such situations regarding advanced discretion and to allow the patient to make a choice. If the patient persists, then perhaps give the patient limited advice to still respect the patient's confidentiality, and/or politely explain why the patient should really call during business hours regarding medical advice.
At any rate, asking for medical advice in such a setting can easily create uncomfortable situations for all parties involved.
Thank you!!I don't think this situation is directly addressed by the HIPAA law. However, if a patient does not specifically object, a provider is allowed to share or discuss health information with that patient's friends or family or other persons involved with the patient's care if they are present (for example, if they came to an appointment with the patient) and a signed release from the patient is not necessary in this situation. So if the patient initiated a conversation in a public place in front of other persons, then I don't believe the provider would or could be held liable for this as long as the provider observed a reasonable amount of discretion.
That said, though, I think that for a variety of reasons it would be imprudent and somewhat unprofessional for a provider to conduct such business outside of a work setting. Just for starters, for a provider to make any recommendations in a place where they don't have access to the patient's chart and medical history and can't document the conversation could put them at risk. Most organizations would probably not want their employees to be doing this, and I can't imagine that providers really want to be doing this in their time off anyway. If the situation is not an emergency, the right thing to do would be to ask the patient to call the office during business hours or to schedule an appointment to discuss the issue.