I’m going to start shadowing a general surgeon in a few days. He made some comment about how he has residents shadow him all the time, so no one will care/wonder about my presence. The way he said this was kind of like he’s breaking the rules.

My question is, should I be signing HIPAA forms or something? What exactly is the story w/ HIPAA and shadowing. Seems like there is a lot of grey area–no pun intended. Clearly shadowing is on some level allowed, because it is a requirement at some schools… but I’ve had doctors tell me that can’t have people shadowing them, because of HIPAA.

I’m sure this doctor knows what he is doing, but at the same time I’m concerned that something could happen and I would get him in trouble… and regret having me shadow him.

When I shadowed as a pre-med I had to go through the hospital HIPAA training and sign documentation. You may want to ask him whether there is paperwork (i.e. HIPAA) that you will need to sign prior to shadowing. I’m not sure that you should read much into his comments as he could have meant a multitude of things.

My feeling is that it’s best to do things the right way rather than avoiding and hoping for the best. If the physician you’re shadowing is uncertain, you might offer to contact the volunteer office at the hospital to see what protocol is.

Thats interesting… ive wondered the same thing… when i was looking for doctors to shadow, some of the replies i received were that they would not able to receive me because of a HIPAA breach.

Well the doctor i shadow now, chief of the department, didnt say squat about HIPAA. I’ve shadowed him in rounds with his residents, in his private practice, in the psych ward, the surg floor, neuro floor, been in patients rooms while he’s examined them, and to top it off, had lunch in the Doctors Dining Lounge (which was quite snazzy)…

Then again, I did not go through any pre-med organization to find him. I took it upon myself to email the doctor and ask him. So i guess I"m not sure what the deal with HIPAA is especially since med schools strongly recommend that you shadow… it just seems contradicting.

I shadowed at a clinic and don’t recall signing forms pertaining to HIPAA. Not sure who one might ask for clarification - perhaps your premed advisor?