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Top 5 HIPAA Violations To Take Note Of

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The healthcare sector is not new to insufficient security measures that has led to breaches and protocol violations. It has led to drastic cause of action brought up by HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) that imposes penalties for individuals and organizations. In this article, we will dive deep into the ten HIPAA violations and HIPAA compliance checklist you must adhere to in your organization.

5 Most Common HIPAA Violations

1. Poor Access Control Policies

All healthcare providers including doctors, physicians, and medical staff access PHI on an everyday basis, and they should have restricted access controls to ensure patient information confidentiality.

2. Device Theft

People in the medical field tend to take their work devices home, on trips, hotel rooms or in public areas which leads to the device being robbed. Sometimes it also happens that devices are left unencrypted causing grave problems.

Healthcare organizations need to build policies to prevent devices from being stolen in the following ways:

  • Proper training in handling and storage of devices.
  • Implement a sign-out policy to ensure physical device security.
  • Encryption of devices.
  • Device tracking software.
  • Reporting of device theft

3. Failure to Secure Data and Encrypt

Healthcare providers tend to neglect and dismiss encryption as it is not considered mandatory. With device theft, information is accessible to anyone, making cyber attacks easy. HIPAA does not mandate the healthcare industry to encrypt data, medical institutions should consider strong encryption techniques to safeguard PHI.

4. Incorrect Disposal of PHI and Medical Data

As per HIPAA regulations, implementing detailed policies at all healthcare facilities for handling expired PHI data is essential. Accepted methods should be executed to do away with physical and digital medical data. They should also provide training to employees to help them learn the best practices for disposal of medical data.

5. Impermissible PHI Disclosure and Employee Misconduct

Intentionally or unintentionally, any kind of disclosure of PHI is illegal and is a violation of the law. Information with expired patient authorization is also considered impermissible. Employee misconduct includes:

  • Sharing of PHI with a friend or family member outside the workplace.
  • Gossiping with colleagues about personal and confidential patient data.
  • Reviewing medical records of a patient for private use without their knowledge.
  • Sharing passwords to access crucial medical data.
  • Sharing photos on social media.
  • Accidental misplacing, loss of digital documentation and discarding PHI
  • Loss of physical or digital documents that contain PHI files

HIPAA Compliance Checklist

A good compliance checklist will help you make a quick move ahead in maintaining HIPAA compliance. Here’s an 8-step-by-step guide to help you get started.

1. Know About the HIPAA three rules

The three rules that come under HIPAA compliance guidelines are:

  1. Privacy Rule
  2. Security Rule
  3. Breach Notification Rule

2. Determine what rules apply to your organization

By understanding the Privacy rule requirements, an organization can find out if they are subject to any agreement needed to maintain with covered entities.

3.  Find out what health records need extra protection

While doing this process, also make a note of who has access to this data and the medium in which they can access it.

4.  Execute a risk analysis

Implementing the right HIPAA compliance controls starts with an analysis to create a HIPAA risk assessment checklist. Create a compliance plan to close the loops on all security gaps and maintain HIPAA standards.

5. Initiate accountability in your compliance plan

To do this, conduct regular monitoring, audits, training and technology maintenance.

6. Avoid HIPAA violations by addressing gaps and loopholes

To avoid HIPAA violations an audit checklist will help you keep a check of your improvements and detect gaps and loopholes.

7.  Keep a track of elaborate documentation

Documentation will ensure to recognize the gaps and record in accordance with the HIPAA compliance process.

8. Discover a breach and report immediately

Internally, an investigation must be conducted which will close security gaps and reinstate your organization’s HIPAA compliance.

Conclusion

Improper security of patient information is the top reason for HIPAA violations by the healthcare industry. The HHS (Department of Health and Human Services) states that the failure to implement proper access control puts organizations at risk. Digitally-accessible sensitive medical records like ePHI (electronically protected health information) need to be secured efficiently. At American HealthCare Academy, you can learn HIPAA online course training fast and earn the Nationally Accredited HIPAA training certification today.