HIPAA is a law that was created to protect patients’ medical information. It’s not just about the patient though; it also protects the medical providers, including healthcare organizations and their employees. If you work in a medical setting or are simply dealing with someone who is under the care of a doctor, then you should be familiar with what HIPAA stands for and how it affects your life.
The importance of HIPAA breaches is not to be underestimated. Breaches can affect millions of people, and it’s important that the public knows how they can protect themselves. If you’re dealing with someone affected by a breach, here are some things you should know about HIPAA and why it matters in your life. You need to be aware of the updated HIPAA Privacy Rule checklist if you are dealing with a breach of HIPAA. We’ve put together this guide to help explain things further:
- 1. 1. When Employees Divulge Patient Information
- 2. 2. When Medical Records Fall Into The Wrong Hands
- 3. 3. Accidentally Sending Emails to the Wrong Person
- 4. 4. Stolen Items
- 5. 5. Lack of Proper Training
- 6. 6. Texting the Patient’s Private Information
- 7. 7. Discussing Information Over the Phone
- 8. Bottom Line:
1. When Employees Divulge Patient Information
An employee divulging patient information is a serious breach of trust and can lead to legal action against the employer, fines, and other consequences. The most common scenario involves an employee telling a friend or family member about a patient’s condition. Another situation involves an employee posting details about his or her job on social media sites without thinking about the potential impact this could have on patients’ privacy.
- Patient confidentiality is one of the most important aspects of HIPAA compliance; it ensures that healthcare providers give their full attention to each individual patient without fear that private information will be shared with others outside their care team.
- A breach like this can cause irreparable harm to the patient’s health because it prevents them from receiving proper treatment in confidence when they need it most.*
2. When Medical Records Fall Into The Wrong Hands
To ensure that your medical records remain confidential, they should be kept in a secure location that only those with permission have access to. Knowing who has access to the files is also important before you give them out. If someone breaches these rules and releases your personal information, such as your social security number or diagnosis, it could lead to identity theft or financial loss. As such, if this happens to you (and it might), make sure you report it immediately so that action can be taken against whoever violated your privacy rights.
3. Accidentally Sending Emails to the Wrong Person
Third, you might send an email to the wrong person. This can be a pain for everyone involved, but it’s important to remember that it happens to everyone from time to time. If this ever happens to you, take a deep breath and figure out what went wrong.
Next, share your mistake with the person who received your email. It’s best if you do this as soon as possible so they don’t wait for an answer or assume there is no response because of some other reason (like, perhaps, they didn’t check their inbox). Finally and most importantly, learn from your mistake! The next time someone sends something encrypted over email (or via any other digital communication), make sure they know where they should send it so that the same thing doesn’t happen again in the future!
4. Stolen Items
The final thing that violates HIPAA and is a common problem is stolen devices. These can include laptops, phones, tablets, and files. If you suspect that your device has been stolen and is being used without your knowledge, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself.
- Encrypt the data on the device using a strong password so anyone who has access to it will have trouble accessing it.
- Have an alert set up on all social media accounts so if someone tries to access them with your name/password; they’ll be stopped quickly.
- At work, if possible, put in place an automatic logout feature after a certain amount of time so even if someone gets into your computer, they won’t be able to stay logged in indefinitely (they would have to use another computer).
5. Lack of Proper Training
In addition to protecting patients’ privacy, HIPAA requires you to train employees to safeguard patient information. This is true for both staff members who are directly involved in patient care and others who may have access to sensitive data. You’ll need to do the same for vendors and volunteers working on behalf of your organization.
You should also make sure that anyone who knows a patient well enough (like family members or friends) understands how important it is not to share information about that person’s health or treatment without his or her consent. This includes pets—if you know someone loves their dog like they love their child, explain why sharing too much can put them at risk of identity theft and financial fraud.
6. Texting the Patient’s Private Information
You may have heard that texting is the most used form of communication these days, but it’s also one of the most problematic when it comes to HIPAA compliance. Texting is not secure, which means that if a patient texts your sensitive information—like their name and birth date—and you don’t delete it right away (or at all), there’s no way to prevent someone else from finding out about it.
Additionally, texting can be used as a way for hackers or other malicious third parties to track your patients’ movements. If one of your patients gives you their address via text message and then you receive an alert saying they were just spotted around town at a specific time and place, chances are there’s been an unauthorized breach in your system somewhere along the line.
7. Discussing Information Over the Phone
One of the most common violations of HIPAA is discussing information over the phone. It may seem like a harmless thing to do, but it can be very dangerous for your patients. For example, you might get a call from someone claiming to be from “the insurance company” who asks you for financial information such as credit card numbers or bank account numbers. This may be someone who has obtained your patient’s information through some other means and is now trying to get access to their money by calling you and pretending they are an insurance company employee. You should always verify the identity of any caller before giving out any personal information.
The bottom line is that HIPAA violations are serious matters and can be costly. They can also lead to legal action, so it’s important to take steps now to ensure compliance with this important law.