HIPAA is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, a law that’s designed to protect patients’ medical information. It’s critical that you understand what HIPAA means for your practice, how to avoid violating it and how to respond if you do.
Your professional liability insurer and your attorney are your primary resources to help navigate the required steps in the case of a breach.
This article will give you an idea of what to expect and how to prepare for a breach involving patient information.
What to Do When You Suspect a HIPAA Violation
Ideally, healthcare practices should have a policy that can walk any employee through the steps if they suspect a HIPAA violation. This policy should outline where to report concerns and next steps for investigation and notification.
If you suspect that a violation has occurred, don’t be afraid to report it to your manger or privacy officer. If someone has given out your patient’s information without authorization, this is a violation of HIPAA rules.
If a manager or supervisor is violating HIPAA rules, it is your responsibility to report them as well. Policies should outline multiple avenues of reporting violations in case it is a manager or supervisor. This can help protect yourself in the future and make sure no one else gets their private medical records leaked due to negligence on the part of an employee or supervisor.
You should also let your patients know about what happened so they can take action if necessary (they may not even know that their private information was leaked).
Steps to Minimize the Damage of a Contained Data Breach
If a data breach occurs and you are notified of its occurrence, there are steps you must take immediately in order to minimize the damage. The first step is determining what happened.
- Identify the source of the breach: If there was an external attack on your network, determine where it occurred and what type of data has been leaked. If it was an insider who stole information from within your organization, gather as much intelligence about them as possible.
- Determine how many people were affected: It’s important for all parties involved to know exactly who was impacted by a breach so that they can provide proper care and support for those affected by this incident.
- Determine how the breach occurred: There may be several ways someone could have gotten access to confidential patient information while working with you at your practice or hospital; however, understanding how exactly it happened will help determine how best to prevent future incidents from occurring again in the future..
- Determine what information was exposed: Some breaches are more serious than others; therefore it is crucial that those responsible for overseeing HIPAA compliance know which pieces of patient data were revealed during said event so they can plan accordingly moving forward when making decisions regarding new policies and procedures being implemented within their organization’s structure before deciding whether or not these changes need implementing immediately after learning about said incident occurring.
Get help immediately if you suspect a HIPAA violation. Do not wait.
If you suspect that a HIPAA violation has occurred and you need help, call your attorney. They will be able to advise you of your legal rights and responsibilities in this situation.
If you are concerned about the potential for liability arising from a HIPAA violation, it’s important to contact your liability insurance provider immediately. Your liability carrier may be able to assist with resolving any potential issues related to the violation before they become a major issue.
At the same time, notify HHS OCR (the Office for Civil Rights). This is typically done through an online complaint form on their website.
Don’t have a HIPAA policy or want a review of what you do have? An experienced consultant can help guide your healthcare organization to make privacy compliance easy. Reach out to H3 today for a free no-commitment consultation.