The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) was put in place to protect the private health information of patients in the United States. Sadly, violations and breaches are still far too common – and if one occurs in your practice, it could place your nursing license at risk. Thankfully, by learning and avoiding the most common HIPAA violations, you can decrease your risk of an investigation and subsequent disciplinary action. Learn more, including how an experienced attorney can help protect your nursing license during an investigation with the Texas Board of Nursing (BON).
Technology and HIPAA Violations
The world is becoming increasingly reliant on the digital storage and transmission of information. While, in many ways, that has made it easier to provide prompt, quality care to patients, there is always the risk of a data breach. Information that is transmitted via non-secure methods (i.e. texting vitals over a cellphone or accessing patient records from a home computer) can create cyber-theft opportunities. Lost and stolen devices can be hacked and accessed for information. To protect the information of your patients, nurses are encouraged to use only approved and encrypted sources to transmit information, and all suspected security breaches should be reported and handled promptly.
Employees Are a Common Source of HIPAA Breaches
Employees are one of the most common causes of HIPAA breaches. Some simply are not trained properly and make honest mistakes, such as sharing patient information in a setting where it can be overheard by non-employees. Others may fail to practice their due diligence when asked for information over the phone. Still, there are others who may not understand the severity of their actions, and they may make poor choices in the handling or disclosure of private patient information. To protect your practice, ensure all employees are thoroughly trained on all HIPAA practices and protocols.
Failure to Obtain Proper Authorization
Patients may need to disclose their information to their employer, their child’s school, or another party. Typically, this is done through an authorization of release. Failure to obtain this release prior to releasing information may be considered a breach of HIPAA. If you or an employee is ever unsure as to whether an authorization is required, either ask an upper member of management or obtain the release to be safe.
HIPAA Breaches May Spark a BON Investigation
If you or an employee breaches HIPAA’s rules and regulations, you could face an investigation by the Texas Board of Nursing (BON). Should they find evidence that a breach has, in fact, occurred, your license could be at risk of suspension or revocation. Thankfully, an experienced attorney can help protect your license and your right to continue practicing medicine.
With nearly 30 years of experience in the medical-legal arena, Oscar San Miguel, Attorney at Law, is the firm to call. Dedicated to your best interests, our Texas nursing license defense lawyer will fight for the most favorable outcome possible for your situation. Schedule your free and personalized consultation by calling 512-228-7946 today.