Maine social worker Karen Staffeld censured over patient information

December 23, 2011

On October 14, 2011, the Maine Board of Social Worker Licensure censured licensed clinical social worker Karen Staffeld for violations of Board Rules and the National Association of Social Workers Code of Ethics.

According to the Board’s document, Staffeld worked as an outpatient clinical counselor in a larger hospital system. Her domestic partner worked in another department of the hospital. For the purpose of coordinating their schedules, she allowed her domestic partner to have access to her daily calendar, which contained client names on it and, in the case of initial assessments, the presenting mental health issue or personal problem which led to the assessment.

Staffeld would also tell her partner which client she was meeting with on a given day.

The two used the hospital e-mail system to communicate about personal issues during the day. Those communication sometimes referenced clients, whether they’d shown for their appointments, comments about them, etc.

Some of Staffeld’s e-mails went to her partner outside the hospital system e-mail and contained protected client health care information that was not encrypted. Some of the messages indicate the partner had knowledge of content of prior counseling sessions.

Source: Consent Agreement in re: Karen Staffeld, Complaint #2001-SOC-6015, State of Maine Board of Social Worker Licensure.


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