4 Ways to Avoid HIPAA Rule Violations at Your Workplace

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was brought into effect in 1996, and…

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was brought into effect in 1996, and its usefulness in preventing loss of insurance cover due to a range of circumstances was evident. However the health care and insurance scenario experienced a major change when the HIPAA Privacy Rules were enacted a few years later.
These rules were specially introduced to safeguard the patients’ protected health information also referred to as the PHI, and any violation in the matter was to invite criminal and civil penalties. All the organizations that have Non Clinical Medical Careers access to the PHI called as the covered entities are under the purview of the Privacy Rules and are supposed to provide adequate training to their employees to ensure compliance with these rules during the course of their work.
But even when you are not working at your desk, there are many other ways that such sensitive information Why Is Healthcare Important To A Country can leak out at the workplace. The following tips will tell you how to avoid violations of this kind.
• Common Areas: Discussion of any patient’s case or personal information should never be carried out in the waiting rooms, corridors and even in the elevators. You must make sure that such discussion is done in a closed consulting room where only the concerned parties are present. Similarly files containing PHI must never be kept in common areas, nor must you access such information on the computer where the screen is visible to any passerby. An area away from the public must be used to store the files under lock and key, while the computer must be locked with a password when you move away for some work.
• Conversation and Gossip: It is fairly common for the staff working in any kind of office setup to casually mention their work with other colleagues. However the situation is different in health care where your work on the patient’s file must be kept confidential. It is best that you avoid conversation that gives away any details of the PHI; instead you must keep the subject very general. Also when taking a break from work and spending time in the cafeteria for example, it is easy to drop your guard and mention a few details in passing. However hard it may seem you must stay off such topics least any sensitive data is revealed.
• Disposal: PHI papers must never be dumped in the common office trash as the information contained in them can be easily misused. You must see to it that all such documents and forms are kept aside and destroyed using a paper shredder.
• Marketing Information: Remember that the patient’s information must be used for health care and insurance purposes only. Disclosing such data for marketing is a serious breach, the data can however be shared only if you have the client’s permission in writing.
What makes the above violation serious is that they can happen quite unknowingly, however as an employee you have to make a special effort to avoid such situations as they will attract penalties just like any other breach would.