Although HIPAA has been in force for over 20 years at this point, sadly, HIPAA infractions are still a common occurrence in the healthcare business. HIPAA breaches, regardless of how minor or severe they may be, always have the potential to cause significant harm to the medical practice that committed the violation and to the patients whose privacy was compromised due to the violation.
Therefore, the breaching activity is subject to the sometimes astonishing financial implications assessed against it. Penalties might vary anywhere from one hundred dollars up to a maximum yearly punishment of one and a half million dollars. However, some infractions are far more common than others, and vigilance is necessary to avoid HIPAA violations. Suppose you want to make sure that your practice continues to comply with HIPAA.
In that case, you should review several of the most frequent HIPAA breaches and try to remember them so that you don’t commit any of them at your office.
VIOLATION 1 – Lost or stolen non-encrypted device
The most prevalent HIPAA breach is the theft of PHI through a lost or stolen device. For example, it was decided in 2016 that an iPhone contained many PHI, such as SSNs, prescriptions, and more. In addition, there was no password or encryption on the phone to safeguard PHI. As a result, the hospital was penalized $650,000 for the infraction, which impacted more than 400 individuals.
We take cell phones for granted regarding the confidential material they might hold, mainly if they’re used for business reasons. In a relaxed setting like an office, it’s easy to forget about our phones or leave them unattended. However, if the incorrect person gets their hands on the cellphone and the PHI, this kind of carelessness may cause severe problems for the business.
VIOLATION 2 – Employee Misconduct is a Problem
Misconduct on the part of employees is analogous to a breach in data security. It may occur for various reasons, but most of the time, it happens by mistake. For instance, personnel may respond to queries posed by friends or family members of patients in a manner that breaches their patients’ right to privacy.
Or the patient might upload photographs or information that could be used to identify them on social media, putting the patient in danger. In non-private situations, employees may discuss with or include protected health information (PHI), which other people may overhear.
Or, even worse, leave files that include PHI where other people may view them. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Employees may intentionally abuse their access to protected health information (PHI) and deliberately disseminate private information about patients via gossip, social media, or other channels. To no one’s surprise, the penalties for HIPAA violations are far harsher in the case of willful breaches.
Ensure first and foremost that access to protected health information (PHI) is limited to those employees who need it to do their duties and only when required. Additionally, sufficient HIPAA training must be provided to every workforce member. Because of this, there won’t be any accidental breaches. In addition, it will ensure that staff members are aware of the significant risks and penalties associated with noncompliance.
VIOLATION 3 – Partnership Agreements That Are Not in Compliance
A clear and frequent HIPAA violation has partnership agreements that do not comply with the regulations. Most healthcare institutions collaborate with a diverse spectrum of other businesses to carry out their day-to-day activities. Contracts are sometimes managed by departments located off-site or in regional offices.
There is the potential for partner companies to be acquired, disposed of, or merged with other businesses. In addition, partners may need to be pressed into service quickly to manage the facility’s urgent requirements. It is simple for mistakes or misunderstandings to lead to non-compliant agreements in situations like these and other similar conditions.
The costs associated with these mistakes can be significant. Therefore, the most effective way to safeguard your company is to ensure that the personnel in charge of managing partner contracts have received extensive training in the HIPAA compliance requirements relevant to their work.
VIOLATION 4 – Inability to Conduct a Comprehensive Risk Analysis
As part of your firm’s efforts to maintain HIPAA compliance, you must do a risk assessment covering the whole organization. The failure to do so is a separate and expensive HIPAA violation. You must also carry out these evaluations since doing so enables you to detect and avoid all of the other typical HIPAA breaches included on this list.
VIOLATION 5 – Disposal of Phi in an incorrect manner
The secure destruction of personally identifiable information (PHI) is a prerequisite for HIPAA compliance. Patients’ confidential information may be more at risk of being disclosed if this step is skipped, which may leave patients more vulnerable.
When getting rid of protected health information (PHI), personnel should shred the patient records or destroy them every time. However, throwing away documents is inadequate since this makes it simple for unauthorized individuals to access protected health information (PHI).
If the patient data or PHI were saved electronically, you mustn’t overlook the need to erase them from the hard drive. Proper staff training may help guarantee that protected health information (PHI) is safeguarded and secure from creation to disposal.
VIOLATION 6 – Inadequate Training for Staff Members
Poor staff training is among the most prevalent HIPAA breaches each year should not come as a surprise, given that proper staff training can prevent virtually all of the other items on this list. There is simply no replacement for providing your employees with the appropriate HIPAA training and confirming their complete understanding of the laws and how they should be applied.
It is not always easy to put on a practical training session, particularly in light of the ongoing developments and shifts in the context of health care. However, HIPAA Exams may be of assistance.