5 Ways to Handle Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Violations
Patient data and medical information is considered very sensitive material. Very often, it is reported to be stolen and misused. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of the US came into existence in 1996 to protect this sensitive medical and personal data of the patients. The HIPAA safeguards the interests of the owner of the insurance, giving the owner the right to see who accesses his or her information and take action against suspected misuse and violation.
Depending upon the nature of the violations, they may or may not be intentional. The violation has to be reported, not later than 90 days, to the Office of Civil Rights, under the Department of Justice of the US. However, once the violation comes into light, rightful steps have to be taken immediately to correct them. If corrective measures are not taken within the stipulated time period, the severity of the violation increases with additional penalties.
Listed below are 5 ways to deal with suspected HIPAA violations.
• The owner of the insurance has to know whenever his or her records are being accessed. If the records have to be accessed for a purpose other than treatment, the patient has to be informed. Unauthorized access is considered a violation. Unintentional violations are given a time frame to be rectified and reversed. The initial violation fetches a minor penalty, a small fine. Repeat violations are considered serious offenses and it may lead to heavy fine and imprisonment.
• The patient may choose to register the complaint against the employee, or the employer of the offending party or institution. He or she may also choose to complaint against both.
• The complaint has to be registered on a printed form available at the OCR or a plain piece of paper and has to be submitted at the OCR. Complaints may also be sent on emails and fax. All details have to be rightfully published. Personal information like name, address and contact numbers of self and the offending party have to be mentioned. The details of the violation, the suspected date and the nature of the violation have to be mentioned. Violations have to be reported within 90 days of it first being committed.
• It is the duty of the employer of the medical institution or the covered entity or the insurance house to make sure all his employees are dutifully adhering to the principles and guidelines under the HIPAA. Failure to adhere to these guidelines is considered a violation.
• Old medical records have to be destroyed completely to prevent misuse. For this purpose, a shredder has to be used. If the old records are not disposed of properly, it is considered a violation.
HIPAA violations are taken seriously for it is considered a breach of privacy of patient confidentiality. The act has changed the way medical information was being protected. Today, the citizens are far more relaxed knowing that their medical records are safe and that they have the power to control their own data.