What Is HIPAA?

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) has been around since 1996, and all living wills and advance medical directives need to have provisions to comply with HIPAA regulations. Unfortunately, Congress did not make the rules that govern HIPAA compliance widely known until 2001, which means if your documents were created before 2001, they are not HIPAA-compliant and you’ll need to go through the process again.

HIPAA Authorization and Compliance

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.

HIPAA Penalties

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The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) established national standards to protect the privacy of a person’s health care information. The Privacy Rule took effect in 2001 and mandated that health care providers and insurance companies who released medical information about their patients could be subject to civil fines, criminal penalties and even imprisonment.

The penalties associated with violating HIPAA often makes health care providers extremely reluctant to share medical information with anyone except the patient. Unfortunately, this can include family members, spouses and childrenthe very people you might want to know how you are and to be there with you in an emergency. You can imagine the frustration and stress this situation would cause for your loved ones. At the same time, you could be denied the love and support of the people who matter to you in life at the very time you need them most.

Fortunately, there is a legal solution to this dilemma. With a HIPAA authorization, you can specify in advance the individuals authorized to have access to your medical information. This will make care providers far more likely to share information about your condition with the people you want in an emergency medical situation. In addition, it will allow them to be there for you in your hour of need.

Hipaa Authorization Form

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This is a form that allows your doctor to disclose your medical records. This may be necessary when you’re switching doctors or moving to a new town. This form allows you to choose the information that can be disclosed and also controls who can view it. The HIPAA Authorization Form can be used if you:

  • Want your medical information released to a doctor.
  • Only want specific information sent to a doctor.
  • Are a doctor and need to have access to certain patient information.
  • Manage a medical office.

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.