6 Important Things To Know About HIPAA Violation

If you’re like most people, you probably don’t know very much about HIPAA violations. And that’s okay. It’s not exactly a topic that comes up in everyday conversation. 

But if you’re responsible for protecting patient data, it’s essential to have a basic understanding of what HIPAA violations are and how to avoid them. Here are six key things to keep in mind.

What HIPAA Violations? 

HIPAA violations can occur when an individual or organization doesn’t comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. 

It sets national standards for the security and privacy of medical information. It can include not safeguarding patients’ health information, sharing patient information without their permission, failing to secure data, or using patient information for marketing purposes. 

Violating HIPAA can result in civil and criminal penalties, so it’s essential to understand what constitutes a violation and how to stay compliant. 

  1. Understand The Minimum Necessary Standard Rule

This is probably one of the most important HIPAA rules to follow. The minimum necessary standard rule requires businesses to only use and disclose the minimum amount of patient information necessary for the task at hand. 

For example, if you need to call a patient about an appointment, you don’t need to know their social security number. You would only need their name and date of birth.

Businesses can’t just share patient information with anyone who asks for it. They need to verify that the person requesting the information needs to do their job.

If you’re a business owner, you need to ensure your employees understand this rule and follow it. Failing to do so can result in fines and other penalties.

The best way to ensure your employees follow these rules is by having a policy that specifically outlines how employees should handle patient information. 

You may also consider implementing training programs to familiarize your employees with HIPAA regulations.

  1. Understand The Sanctions For Violating HIPAA

To ensure the privacy of patient data, HIPAA outlines a series of sanctions for violators. These sanctions can range from fines to imprisonment and serve as a deterrent for those who would violate patients’ privacy. 

The amount of the fine will depend on the severity of the violation. Fines can range from $100 to $50,000 per incident. In some cases, businesses may be fined up to $500,000 per year for violations.

Penalties can include suspension of operations, termination of employees, and more.

Businesses can also be subject to civil lawsuits if patients feel their privacy has been violated. Patients can sue for damages and attorneys’ fees, and other costs.

It’s important to note that these are just the penalties for violating HIPAA rules. There are also criminal penalties for knowingly and willfully violating HIPAA regulations. These can include fines up to $500,000 and ten years in prison.

Understanding the sanctions for violating HIPAA is critical for healthcare providers and businesses alike, as they provide an overview of what could happen if sensitive information is mishandled.

  1. Know Steps to Take to Avoid Violating HIPAA Rule’s

Businesses need to be aware of the consequences of violating HIPAA rules to avoid them. Some steps you can take include:

Encrypting Data

It’s vital to encrypt patient data so no one can access it without permission. It will help to prevent unauthorized access and protect patient information.

You can encrypt data using different methods. Some common methods include:

  • Using password protection.
  • Storing data in a secure location.
  • Encrypting files with a software program.

There are many ways to encrypt data, so finding the best method for your needs is essential.

Monitor The Access of PHI

You can do this by using tracking software or creating logs of who accessed PHI and when. It will help you identify any unauthorized access and prevent them from happening in the future.

Training Employees On How to Protect PHI

It’s vital to train employees on how to protect PHI. You can provide training through an online course, in-person training, or even by sending out informational emails. Whatever method you choose, your employees must be knowledgeable about HIPAA rules.

  1. Understand The Different Types of Breaches

A HIPAA breach is “the unauthorized acquisition, access, use, or disclosure of Protected Health Information (PHI).” PHI is any information that can identify a patient. It includes social security numbers, addresses, birthdates, and even medical records. There are many different types of breaches you need to be aware of. Some common types include:

  • Hacking: This is when someone unauthorized gains access to PHI through computer systems.
  • Theft: This is when someone unauthorized takes PHI without permission.
  • Loss: This is when PHI is lost or misplaced.
  • Unauthorized Access: This is when someone unauthorized gains access to PHI.

Each type of breach has different consequences, so it’s essential to be aware of them.

  1. Have a Plan in Place In Case of a Breach

It’s crucial to have a plan in place in case of a breach. This plan should include steps to mitigate the damage and minimize the risk of further violations.

Some common steps to take after a breach include:

  • Notifying affected individuals.
  • Notifying the appropriate authorities.
  • Changing passwords and security measures.
  • Investigating the cause of the violation.

Having a plan in place can help you respond quickly and effectively to a breach. It can also help you prevent further violations from occurring.

  1. Know-How to Report A Suspected HIPAA Violation

If you suspect a HIPAA violation has occurred, you can report it to the HHS Office for Civil Rights. You can do this via:

  • Filling out the online form
  • Mail
  • Email
  • Fax

If you have any suspicion that a HIPAA violation has occurred, you should report it immediately. The HHS Office for Civil Rights is responsible for investigating suspected HIPAA violations and taking appropriate action. Delaying could mean that vital information is lost and the violator goes unpunished.

The consequences of violating HIPAA rules can be severe. Businesses need to be aware of the risks and avoid violating these rules. 

Implementing just-in-time access, training employees on how to protect PHI, and monitoring access of PHI are some of the ways businesses can protect patient information. 

Having a plan in place in case of a breach is also essential. Companies can help protect their patients’ privacy and reduce the risks of violating HIPAA rules by taking these steps.