What Is HIPAA?

happy-couple-insideHIPAA rules keep your health information private. HIPAA requires all medical care providers, such as doctors, pharmacies, nurses, and hospitals, to keep your medical information private. The Privacy Rule of 2001 placed HIPAA in the spotlight, and now every medical office knows the importance of HIPAA compliance.

Any medical organization in possession of patient health information is deemed to be a covered entity and must remain HIPAA-compliant or else it will face civil and/or criminal penalties. If a medical facility discloses private patient health information without the patient’s consent, it is in violation of the privacy rule. In order to remain HIPAA-compliant, medical facilities should do the following:

  • Be guarded during conversation: It is easy to mistakenly disclose information during the course of a casual conversation. Even stating that Jane Smith had a medical examination today would be in breach of HIPAA regulations.
  • Public area wariness: It is never acceptable to discuss patient information in hallways, waiting areas, or elevators, as there is a possibility that sensitive information could be overheard by other patients. Patient records should be stored away from the reach of the general public.
  • Careful disposal: Never dispose of patient information by throwing it in the trash can. This means private information is available to the public, and as such, this action is in breach of HIPAA regulations.
  • Avoid gossip: There is gossip in every workplace, and it can quickly get out of control. This is why access to information is limited to employees who need the information as part of their job. Violating privacy in this manner can be especially damaging in smaller towns.
  • No marketing: It is against HIPPA regulations to disclose private patient information or sell patient lists to third parties unless you have the consent of the patient. This information should only ever be disclosed as a means of providing quality health care.

If you need to know more about HIPAA compliance or believe a physician or medical facility is in breach of HIPAA regulations, get in touch with an experienced attorney today.

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