Here are the Most Common HIPAA Violations You Should Avoid

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Insurance coverage for those in between employment was a key concern HIPAA sought to solve when it was first presented in 1996. Thus the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) is useful, especially for employees who were between jobs and would have lost their insurance coverage without this policy. 

HIPAA’s second objective was to stop healthcare fraud, ensure that all “protected health information” was secured correctly, and limit access to health information to those who were allowed to see it.

For the healthcare sector, HIPAA brought about a number of significant advantages that will aid in the switch from paper records to electronic versions of health information. HIPAA has aided in streamlining administrative healthcare tasks, increasing productivity in the sector, and ensuring that protected health information is transferred securely.

Although HIPAA laws are exceedingly intricate and have wide-ranging effects, the act might be challenging to understand because it doesn’t set forth any guidelines for achieving compliance. HIPAA compliance can be compared to a changing target, with various requirements for various businesses depending on their capacity to secure and protect protected health information.

Considering the HIPAA privacy rules, there are, at times, several violations against the act which drastically affect your HIPAA complaints. The violations are examined, and then, after necessary procedures, a penalty is given.

Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has received more than 306,862 HIPAA complaints, with 123 cases ending in settlements or civil money penalties totaling $133,384,272.00.

Maintaining Unsecured Records

All staff members should be instructed during employee training to store PHI-containing papers in a secure location at all times. PHI-containing physical documents must be locked in a desk, filing cabinet, or office. Digital files should be secured wherever possible and require strong passwords to access them.

Failure to Conduct an Organization-Wide Risk Analysis

One of the most frequent HIPAA breaches to incur a monetary fine is the failure to do an organization-wide risk analysis. Organizations won’t be able to identify any risks to PHI’s confidentiality, integrity, and availability of the risk analysis is not routinely carried out. As a result, risks will likely go unchecked, giving hackers free rein. 

Healthcare organizations and those collaborating with them are required to do an organization-wide risk analysis under HIPAA rules. This analysis aims to identify any systemic flaws that might compromise the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of PHI inside the company. Businesses that fail to conduct this risk analysis give hackers a chance to access their networks and steal patient information.

Additional violations result from a lack of a risk management process and failure to handle security risks. A risk management method must then be used to address risks that were found during the analysis. Threats and vulnerabilities need to be prioritized and fixed as soon as possible.

Insecure Data

Failing to secure and encrypt data adequately is arguably the most frequent HIPAA violation. Due to this fact, there are numerous methods for this to occur. Organizations occasionally assume that encryption is optional since it is listed as “addressable” rather than “required.”

If a device that contains PHI is lost or stolen, encrypting the data offers an additional layer of security. In the event that a password-protected device is accessed in any other way, such as by hacking, it provides an extra layer of security.

It is strongly advised, even though it is not a strict HIPAA requirement. The HIPAA rules in your State should also be familiar to you because several States have passed legislation requiring the encryption of ePHI and PII.

Device Misplacement or Theft

In June 2016, a case involving the theft of an iPhone with a significant amount of ePHI, such as social security numbers, details about medical conditions and treatments, prescription drug information, and more, was resolved. The iPhone was also neither password-protected nor encrypted, making all ePHI accessible to anyone in possession of the device.

The Catholic Health Care Services of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia is where the infraction took place (CHCS). The nursing care institution was fined $650,000, and the data breach harmed 412 nursing home residents and family members. Devices containing ePHI are unfortunately vulnerable to loss or theft if they are not kept in a secure location at all times.

According to OCR estimates, up to 50% of Americans had their PHI hacked between 2009 and the present. These hacks are largely a result of stolen, unsecured, and unencrypted mobile devices. These consist of: Laptops, mobile phones, a PDA and a Blackberry zip, flash, and USB drive. These objects are simple to take because of their tiny size, ability to be hidden, and common appearance. They may be taken from a person or eliminated from buildings, automobiles, or residences.

Incorrect Record Disposal

The correct disposal of PHI documents is one of the most crucial policies to enforce while educating your team about HIPAA rules. All PHI-containing data, including social security numbers, details of medical procedures, and diagnoses, should be shredded, burned, or completely erased from hard drives, for example. Staff employees should be aware of this.

It could fall into the wrong hands and constitute a major HIPAA violation if any of this information is left sitting about in a trash can, computer’s recent files folder, etc. You can stop this from happening with the right employee training and enforcement by a compliance officer or other personnel.

Inadequate Training for Employees

Every employee interacting with PHI must receive complete HIPAA regulations and compliance training. The HIPAA law mandates employee HIPAA training, so it is more than just a suggestion. All employees must receive thorough training on the law and the specific policies and procedures established by your firm.

Conclusion

Keeping in view the above violations, you should make sure that your organization doesn’t approve of these transgressions. The penalties must be installed, which is quite higher in the prices. The ideal condition would be to completely avoid these penalties by regulating and channelizing the overall system of your organization. 

We have provided you with the most common HIPPA violations; give it a thorough read and benefit from the provided content.

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