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Protect worker info from supervisors
Has a supervisor asked you for an employee's diagnosis, the medications he or she is taking, or for information about the worker's medical history? Supervisors do not need this information, according to Patricia B. Strasser, PhD, RN, COHN-S/CM, FAAOHN, principle of Partners in BusinessHealth Solutions in Toledo, OH.
"The information that they need is whether an employee is capable of performing the job duties, with or without accommodations," says Strasser. She notes that both the American Association of Occupational Health Nurses and the American College of Occupational and Environmental Physicians have developed standards regarding confidentiality of employee medical information.
"These documents reinforce the ethical obligation that occupational health nurses and physicians have to release only information related to fitness for duty," she says. The only exceptions to this, she says, are if the employee consents to release of additional information or there is a legal requirement mandating release.
If employees do not believe that their medical information will be maintained in a confidential manner, they may not be willing to share it with the company's health care providers including yourself, notes Strasser.
"Such an omission may result in inappropriate care or potential harm," she warns. She gives the example of some individuals being more at risk in a hot environment because they are taking certain medications.
"If an employee or prospective employee is afraid to disclose the medication he or she is taking, the person might be placed in a job that could result in a serious heat-related incident," says Strasser.
For more information on employee medical information, contact:
Patricia B. Strasser, PhD, RN, COHN-S/CM, FAAOHN, Partners in BusinessHealth Solutions, Toledo, OH. Phone: (419) 882-0342. Fax: (419) 843-2623. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.