The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) keeps health care providers and institutions accountable for properly protecting, storing, and sharing patient information. Technology has changed the way records are kept which has created new issues to be addressed when it comes to protecting patient information. Our medical malpractice lawyers in Chester County, PA share some of the most common HIPAA violations and what recourse you may have if your privacy rights are violated.
In the past, paper records allowed physicians, hospitals, and other health care providers to keep records secure by locking them in secure areas with limited access. Today, most records are stored digitally which requires different types and levels of security. Passwords can be hacked, so it’s vital for records to be properly encrypted.
Hackers who are able to access sensitive patient information such as social security numbers can use it for crimes like identity theft which can have a serious impact on your finances and credit. If a hack or data breach has had a negative impact on your life, malpractice lawyers in West Chester PA help you hold responsible parties accountable for failing to keep your information safe.
Employees of health care providers and institutions should be well trained in HIPAA laws and the procedures required to keep patient information secure. Improper handling of phishing emails, disposing of records in an unsecure manner, and talking about patient cases with others are three major problems when it comes to employee mishandling of sensitive data.
These types of HIPAA violations are easily preventable with thorough training and monitoring of processes and employee performance. It’s imperative that health care professionals and organizations thoroughly train employees and enforce proper adherence to privacy laws and regulations.
Another issue that has become a real problem is health care workers and providers losing devices like laptops, tablets, and smartphones. Outlining and informing employees of explicit policies and restrictions on whether devices can be taken from the premises and how they should be stored are critical in protecting patients’ rights.
Impermissible Disclosure of Protected Health Information
Some other forms you may see at your doctor’s office, clinic or hospital are authorization forms for release of information to other health care providers and family members. These prevent your information from being released to other parties. If there are specific people or institutions you want to prohibit from accessing your records, make sure to inform your health care providers of this in writing.
Limited or Restricted Access to Your Own Records
Failure to provide medical records to patients in a timely manner is also a HIPAA violation. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has been working to change certain rules to make protected health information more easily accessible to patients and their preferred health care providers. In 2022, they may ease certain administrative requirements and remove provisions of the HIPAA Privacy Rule that help simplify coordination of care and make records more accessible to patients.
What You Can Do to Protect Your Interests
Our experienced legal team features some of the best medical malpractice lawyers in Pennsylvania. We provide a thorough assessment of your case and advise you of your options for holding providers accountable.