What Are The Usual HIPAA Privacy Violations?

The rule of HIPAA Privacy has provided the rights of a healthcare professional to amend and access the health information of a patient and help prevent fraud, abuse, and waste. That’s why if the facility and the network are not compliant to HIPAA, the costs could be higher than taking an action.


With that, HIPAA privacy violations take away the trust between a healthcare professional and patients. It would result in heavy fines that would cost a lot of money or criminal charges. This blog will teach you more about the common HIPAA Privacy violations and possible solutions.


Now, let’s look at the common violations to HIPAA Privacy and the preventive measures to take to help you avoid violations.


1. Hacking


Data from most healthcare network servers were victims of hacking for the last few years. The numbers even continue to increase to date. In 2021, about 50 million patients or individuals were actually affected by hacking and data breaches in healthcare, of which 15% were from the US.


The issue about hacking has also become more rampant with the start of technologies such as cloud storage, telemedicine, and medical communication. The servers have patients’ health information, and the skilled hackers – getting better in everything they do, usually get their hands on the confidential information.


The hackers would leak the information or sell it. Some may even find this information important as it includes the Social Security details, birth dates, insurance information, and addresses.


Course of Action:


Since hacking of patient information is one of the issues that any healthcare professional faces, using the software tool for HIPAA compliance to assist you in breach compliance and regular privacy checks is very effective. There will also be automated reminders in rotating certificates and encryption keys. With that, you may build a strong incident response strategy with your IT team if protocols have been breached.


2. Release of Patient Information After Expiry of Authorization Periods


Patients deserve to have easy access and transparency to their health records. A new HIPAA privacy law update requires the entities to respond to patients’ requests for their records within 15 days instead of the usual 30-day window.


The whole organization must fulfill this rule to avoid being penalized. But what happens when the organization does not fulfill the requests on time? Well, you should know that there are expiration dates on the authorization forms of HIPAA. Anyone who fails to comply with this 15 days timeline would then become a direct violation of the HIPAA regulations.


Anyone not paying enough attention to the date when requesting for the release of information of patients comes through would end up sending the information even if they should not have. A new HIPAA authorization form should be required if the request comes past the expiry date.


Course of Action:


Setting automated reminders would help keep the teams on time and task. The reminders could be set in software like HIPAA compliance solutions, project management platforms, and ITSM software. Also, you have to verify the expiration dates before releasing information.


3. Losing Device


One of the biggest issues with HIPAA compliance these days is losing devices containing patient health information. These devices may be laptops, smartphones, desktop computers, and tablets used in day-to-day operations. You must remember that mobile devices are vulnerable to misplacement and theft because of their portability and size.


Course of Action:


You have to take extra care and a watchful eye on the devices. Keep them locked when you are not around, and never trust anyone. Secure important and confidential files on the devices with encryptions and use a cloud hosting solution for more remote access. If possible, put a device passcode so that only you can access it.


4. Employees have Access to File


Let’s face it; it’s very hard to trust everyone, and staff could sometimes face misconduct that would lead to breach in HIPAA compliance. It’s usually through snooping through the medical information on file without having proper access.


Employees do this because of curiosity. Mainly because a relative or a friend asked them for a favor. But no matter what their excuse can be, it is still unethical. Unfortunately, this issue still happens as data and accounts are being shared between employees and physicians.


Course of Action:

To prevent staff misconduct you should only hire people only after background checks. Implement procedures and policies that come with annual HIPAA training and impose unique user IDs, passcodes, passwords, or clearance levels. This will prevent employees from getting access to the patients’ files, especially if they don’t have the authority to access them.


5. Poor Control in Filing Documents


Using the traditional filing of paper systems is likely to have human error results. The employee may input incorrect details into the patient’s records, or they could accidentally get rid of the document without shredding it first. Mistakes could happen anytime, especially with poor internal control.


Course of Action:


Implement policies and procedures to guarantee that PII or PHI on paper is safe. You may switch to electronic filing or make sure everyone has double or triple checks to correctly dispose of and file the documents.


Wrapping Up


Violations of HIPAA privacy could be upsetting because you could have prevented them from happening. However, due to circumstances, these policies were breached. As a healthcare professional, always ensure measures to take so patients and organizations are protected.


With all the usual HIPAA privacy violations and their solutions, you will consider getting regular risk assessments, staff training, set reminders, and even implementing HIPAA compliance to avoid gaps. That way, you will remain protected.