HIPPA In Home Care

HIPPA In Home Care

What is HIPPA?

Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPPA), was signed into legislation back in the 90's. ... HIPAA has specifications that ensure the confidentiality and privacy of protected health information. If you don't know already, HIPAA is very important to everyone, including you.

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996 contains the following three major provisions: Portability. Medicaid Integrity Program/Fraud and Abuse. Administrative Simplification.

What is considered a breach of HIPPA?

A breach of protected health information (“PHI”) is defined as the acquisition, access, use, or disclosure of unsecured PHI, in a manner not permitted by HIPAA, which poses a significant risk of financial, reputational, or other harm to the affected individual.

Examples of HIPPA violations:

1. Employees disclosing information – Employees' gossiping about patients to friends or coworkers is also a HIPAA violation that can cost a practice a significant fine. Employees must be mindful of their environment, restrict conversations regarding patients to private places, and avoid sharing any patient information with friends and family.

2. Medical records mishandling – Another very common HIPAA violation is the mishandling of patient records. If a practice uses written patient charts or records, a physician or nurse may accidentally leave a chart in the patient's exam room available for another patient to see. Printed medical records must be kept locked away and safe out of the public's view.

3. Lost or Stolen Devices – Theft of PHI (protected health information) through lost or stolen laptops, desktops, smartphones, and other devices that contain patient information can result in HIPAA fines. Mobile devices are the most vulnerable to theft because of their size; therefore, the necessary safeguards should be put into place such as password protected authorization and encryption to access patient-specific information.

4. Texting patient information – Texting patient information such as vital signs or test results is often an easy way that providers can relay information quickly. While it may seem harmless, it is potentially placing patient data in the hands of cyber criminals who could easily access this information. There are new encryption programs that allow confidential information to be safely texted, but both parties must have it installed on their wireless device, which is typically not the case.

5. Social Media - Posting patient photos on social media is a HIPAA violation. While it may seem harmless if a name is not mentioned, someone may recognize the patient and know the doctor's specialty, which is a breach of the patient's privacy. Make sure all employees are aware that the use of social media to share patient information is considered a violation of HIPAA law.

6. Employees illegally accessing patient files - Employees accessing patient information when they are not authorized is another very common HIPAA violation. Whether it is out of curiosity, spite, or as a favor for a relative or friend, this is illegal and can cost a practice substantially. Also, individuals that use or sell PHI for personal gain can be subject to fines and even prison time.

7. Social breaches - An accidental breach of patient information in a social situation is quite common, especially in smaller more rural areas. Most patients are not aware of HIPAA laws and may make an innocent inquiry to the healthcare provider or clinician at a social setting about their friend who is a patient. While these types of inquiries will happen, it is best to have an appropriate response planned well in advance to reduce the potential of accidentally releasing private patient information.

8. Authorization Requirements - A written consent is required for the use or disclosure of any individual's personal health information that is not used for treatment, payment, healthcare operations, or permitted by the Privacy Rule. If an employee is not sure, it is always best to get prior authorization before releasing any information.

9. Accessing patient information on home computers – Most clinicians use their home computers or laptops after hours from time to time to access patient information to record notes or follow-ups. This could potentially result in a HIPAA violation if the screen is accidentally left on and a family member uses the computer. Make sure your computer and laptop are password protected and keep all mobile devices out of sight to reduce the risk of patient information being accessed or stolen.

10. Lack of training - One of the most common reasons for a HIPAA violation is an employee who is not familiar with HIPAA regulations. Often only managers, administration, and medical staff receive training although HIPAA law requires all employees, volunteers, interns and anyone with access to patient information to be trained. Compliance training is one of the most proactive and easiest ways to avoid a violation.

How do we maintain confidentiality?

Confidentiality is the protection of personal information. Confidentiality means keeping a client's information between you and the client, and not telling others including co-workers, friends, family, etc.

Why is it important to maintain patient confidentiality?

Patient confidentiality is one of the most important pillars of medicine. Protecting the private details of a patient is not just a matter of moral respect, it is essential in retaining the important bond of trust between the doctor and the individual.

Also, IT’S THE LAW!

Can you go to jail for violations of HIPPA?

Like the HIPAA civil penalties, there are different levels of severity for criminal violations. The minimum penalty is $50,000 and up to one year in jail. Violations committed under false pretenses require a penalty of $100,000 and up to five years in prison.

Also, HIPPA VIOLATIONS ARE GROUNDS FOR IMMEDIATE TERMINATION!

HIPPA QUIZ:
True/False

1. HIPPA stands for: Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.

2. It is okay for me to post on facebook about how my day went at work?

3. I could go to jail for HIPPA violations?

4. PHI stands for: protected health information

5. Any employee who violates the HIPPA may be subject to discipline and termination of employment with the Agency.

Answer Key:

1) T

2) F

3) T

4) T

5) T