While running a medical practice, HIPAA violations are considered potential threats that can cost your organization significantly. Being negligent with HIPAA compliance can result in civil and criminal penalties.
The fine amounts are alarming, with $50,000 per occurrence and a maximum annual penalty of $1.5 million per violation if you fail to observe the HIPAA in healthcare. It is a dire need for medical-related practices to ensure their processes strictly adhere to the HIPAA regulations and that their staffs are adeptly trained and knowledgeable to follow the HIPAA guidelines.
You might want to consider fastening up your healthcare organizations’ HIPAA standards by looking at the below ten most common violations that occur in HIPAA, which could cost you a great deal.
1. Failure To Secure The Records
Itis common for the medical staff to work on hectic schedules. During those busy working hours, it isn’t uncommon for them to leave some patient files or records unattended. These vital records containing patient-protected health information (PHI) ought to get secured around the clock, and when they fail to do so, it violates HIPAA regulations.
In the case of digitalized files, ensure they are protected well with a password. Also, ascertain that your employees know the importance of securing the medical records with the PHI by locking them safely in the office cabinets.
2. Unencrypted Data
Criminals can effortlessly steal critical information when files get leaked or if the passwords get cracked, or devices that hold necessary PHI get lost or stolen if the electronic files of crucial patient data aren’t appropriately encrypted. It leads to a severe violation of HIPAA in healthcare.
To avoid such occurrences, it is better to have an additional layer of security which can be achieved by encrypting your entire digital files holding PHI. Be advised to ensure that complete sensitive information gets encrypted during transit and storage while working with third-party service providers.
3. Breaches In Your Data
Criminals maliciously seek to steal crucial data for various purposes, especially from your digital files, which consist of patient information. In so many ways, hackers can smartly breach your network to gain access to your PHI, which is within your electronic files.
You can take protective measures to avoid such breaches in the data by securing your network by installing firewalls and using the latest antivirus software while making a payment or handing an invoice to a third-party service provider for processing patient information.
4. Wrong Disposal Of Patient Records
Criminals can easily access and retrieve crucial data when your staff wrongly disposes of the files and documents which hold the PHI, such as throwing away the hard drive or files in a trash can. Once they access it, criminals can easily misuse the sensitive information. By doing so, you again end up violating HIPAA regulations.
To avoid that, it is better to instruct your staff to ensure the physical paperwork files get shredded thoroughly. And in electronic files, ensure the complete data has got wiped off from the hard drive.
5.Insufficient Training Of The Employee
Every employee who handles PHI should be knowledgeable and well-trained in HIPAA regulations and compliance. Per HIPAA law, HIPAA training for an employee is a definite requirement. They must be thoroughly trained in the law and adeptly get educated about the various policies and procedures coined by their medical practice.
6. Unintentional Disclosure Of Critical PHI
At times, unintentionally, the staff members try to access PHI that they aren’t authorized to view. Sometimes they get curious, and though it got done without malicious intent, it is still a HIPAA violation.
To avoid such violations in HIPAA regulations, it is essential for the staff members to be thoroughly educated and expertly trained about the various procedures which clearly state who has access to what files. They must also be firmly instructed and aware of the severe consequences of such a violation.
7. Exhaustive Risk Analysis Missed Out
It is paramount to conduct an organization-wide risk analysis at regular intervals by the medical organizations. By doing so, they can identify any vulnerability which affects the PHI’s confidentiality or integrity. Absence of such analysis results in violating HIPAA regulations.
Advanced risk assessment tools are available to assist your organization in this significant step to HIPAA compliance.
8. Denial of Access To Patients’ Health Records
Patients have the right to access their medical records according to the HIPAA privacy rule. Not only that, they can even receive copies of the same on request. Doing so gives the patients a chance to view their health records and intimate if there are any errors. In case such access is denied to the patient, or if the access given exceeds the 30 days time window, it violates the HIPAA.
It is better to avoid such unnecessary delays or hold access to the patients to their health records.
9. Neglect In Entering A HIPAA-compliant Business Associate Agreement
When you have neglected to enter into a HIPAA-compliant business associate agreement, it is yet another common violation of HIPAA. The vendors who have been given or provided access to PHI must not get neglected.
10. Disclosure Of PHI To 3rd Party
PHI must get discussed with only the patient, physician, billing staff for medical billing, insurance team, and the medications service members or related services. Other than these people, it is not right to disclose PHI to anybody.
If we look closely at the complete list, we can get assured that we can avoid most of these common reasons resulting from violating HIPAA regulations and compliance. Either we secure the data digitally or physically while keeping the team of staff handling the HIPAA to be well-trained and thoroughly knowledgeable about the HIPAA laws and mainly avoid communicating with any other who is not authorized.