Medical practitioners have a legal responsibility to maintain the privacy of every patient. However, with social media, doing this has become a challenge, as revealing confidential information is often unintentional. By taking certain precautions, you can help yourself become more mindful in protecting your patients, employer, and yourself.
What is HIPAA?
The Health Insurance Portability And Accountability Act (HIPAA) came into action in 1996 to protect patients’ privacy. HIPAA mandates health care organizations and their associates to follow get comprehensive training as seen in this URL and procedures that keep protected health information (PHI) safe at all times when shared, sent, or received.
How does this concern you as a health practitioner? Simple! All kinds of PHI must always be secure, and you should only handle minimum information depending on your level. HIPAA violations come with heavy consequences, as nurses can lose their licenses or be sanctioned. Also, employers can be fined about $1 million.
What Does HIPAA Violation Look Like?
HIPAA violations are of different forms; some could be done unintentionally. Here are some sceneries of how HIPAA is violated:
- Social Media
Social media could have a future negative impact on employment, as workplace discrimination is still in existence. Posting photos of patients across social media with captions such as “I love nursing” or “Just finished a chemotherapy session” could cause something bad years later, even though the patient agreed to it. You may feel that your social media accounts are private; it takes nothing to take screenshots and send them across. To safeguard your nursing license, and abide by the law, consider the negative effects your presence on social media could bring.
- Overheard Conversations
Ever visited a doctor’s office and overheard another patient’s name and medical information? This could make you pretty uncomfortable, feeling that your private information could also be at risk. Whenever you want to talk about a patient’s information, you should always be mindful of your present environment.
- Technological Errors
You may have forgotten your phone somewhere or left the computers unlocked, leaving it accessible to anyone. Nurses should be mindful of the places they go through patient medical information. Always be cautious on how you view patients’ medical information on your home devices that family members could access to avoid HIPAA violations.
Tips To Avoid HIPAA Violations
Now you are aware of what the violation looks like, here are tips to help you avoid going against HIPAA regulations.
- Keep Learning About HIPAA
As an employee, you shouldn’t just learn the basics of HIPAA regulations and expect to keep up with modifications on your own. Both employers and employees should be made aware of changes in HIPAA regulations. Employees should know the consequences they would face if they ever violated these regulations. Employers should conduct regular training to ensure employees are aware of how to avoid violating HIPAA regulations.
- Double Check Authorizations
A written agreement from the patient is required by HIPAA before any form of information is disclosed. Always take a break and thoroughly go through the information before providing it to coworkers, especially the ones who are not caring for the patient.
- Secure Mobile Devices
One major problem that leads to HIPAA violation is when a mobile device containing patients’ medical information gets lost or stolen. Employees should always ensure that their devices are secure and protected at all times. Should an employee’s device get lost, that organization could pay for the consequences. Employers should remind their employees to be mindful of how they handle their work devices. Employees should as well turn off and lock their devices when they are not using them.
- Dispose of Paper Documents Properly
HIPAA violations also occur when employees forget to shred paper documents before disposing of them in the trash. When an employee’s day seems hectic, they may forget to shred the papers that contain the patient’s medical information. The best approach to solve this is by moving over to the digital filing system. If your organization still makes use of paper files, as an employee, be sure to always dispose of them properly.
- Keep Patients Medical Information Away From The Public
Patients’ medical information shouldn’t be visible to people who come into your organization. This is a very common mistake that most organizations make daily. Employees should remember to always close patient folders and never reveal appointments. Employees should adapt to the habit of retaining patient medical information.
- Avoid Sending Patient Medical Information Via Text Messages
So many people use text messages to pass information quickly, as it’s a very easy means. However, neither of these messaging platforms is fully safe. Regular sending of text messages is not usually encrypted, and if an employee sends a confidential patient’s medical information via text message, there’s a possibility of it getting leaked.
As you focus on the benefits of remaining HIPAA compliant and conduct regular training, you can greatly help in avoiding HIPAA violations. If you wish to know how to avoid HIPAA violations, you should know that every employee needs to be compliant. As an employer, be sure that your employees are well-informed, educated, and trained on HIPAA violations and the consequences. This is the best approach to avoid violations from occurring.