Learn More About The Types of HIPAA Violations to Avoid

HIPAA violations are nothing a business should be taking lightly. The minimum fine for a HIPAA violation starts at $100 and can grow as large as $1.5 million for each provision of the rules. As such, healthcare professionals and insurance adjusters are all feeling the pressure and are trying to do whatever they can to prevent falling out of HIPAA compliance.

But, in order to stay out of trouble, you must first understand which mistakes to avoid. Here's a look at some common HIPAA violation examples:

1. No "Right to Revoke" Clause

When creating your facility's HIPAA forms, you must take care to inform patients of their right to revoke the permissions they have given for the disclosure of their confidential medical information to specific parties. Without this information, the HIPAA form is invalid, and any subsequent information released to a third party will be in violation of HIPAA regulations.

2. Release of the Wrong Patient's Information

Although it may seem obvious, the release of the incorrect patient's information can occur through careless mistakes. If your facility contains records for two patients with the same name, for example, you and your staff must be trained to correctly file all medical records, and release documents only for the authorized patient. If your staff is not careful to avoid these types of mistakes, you may find yourself in violation of the HIPAA Privacy Rule.

3. Release of Unauthorized Health Information

When releasing information, it is imperative that you and your staff work to carefully verify that the requested documents have been approved for release. A patient may have requested that specific elements of their record (ie: mental health, alcohol/drug treatment, etc.) not be released, whereas others may choose to share their entire record with a specific entity.

Make sure that you have a patient’s written authorization to release any or all of his or her personal information unless it pertains to facilitating treatment or payment. You may disclose Protected Health Information (PHI) after providing notice to individuals for the following reasons:

  • To law enforcement officials for court orders, subpoenas, and other law enforcement purposes as required by law.

  • To expedite payment or treatment without a patient’s written authorization.

4. Missing Patient Signature on HIPAA Forms

Never release a patient's information to an outside party without verifying that the HIPAA form has been signed by the patient.

5. Improper Disposal of Patient Records

There can be awful consequences if your facility does not dispose of patient records in the proper manner. Shredding hard copies is a good way of doing so. You don't want these confidential document(s) landing in the wrong hands because your facility could receive fines and be dragged into court based on the HIPAA Privacy Rule.

6. Failure to Promptly Release Information to Patients

Per HIPAA regulations, patients have the right to quickly obtain electronic copies of their medical records upon demand. If your system is disorganized, or if the requested information is lost, you could end up violating HIPAA rules.

Make sure you are taking all the necessary steps to ensure that no HIPAA violations will be occuring at your facility. It will save you from not only any financial burdens, but also a great deal of stress.