What is a HIPAA Violation? - What You Need to Know About HIPAA

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Your hospital can't afford the cost of a patient health records breach. After all, you can get fined up to $1.5 million for a single HIPAA violation.

But what is a HIPAA violation? And how can you keep your organization from paying hefty HIPAA fines? Keep reading for the answer to these questions, plus how to stay HIPAA compliant.

What Is a HIPAA Violation?

Healthcare organizations and their business partners violate HIPAA if there is a breach of patient data.

This can be a physical breach of patients' protected health information (PHI) stored on paper charts. Or it can be a digital breach of patient health information stored on your electronic medical records system (ePHI).

The fines you incur for a breach depend on how many patient files get breached.

Minor Breaches of PHI and ePHI

HIPAA considers the compromise of 500 or fewer patient records as a minor breach. For example, if a member of your staff snoops in a celebrity patient's records, this would be a minor breach since it only affects one patient.

You must report minor breaches to the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). If you fail to report the breach within 60 days, you will receive HIPAA fines. You may also receive a fine if you fail to notify the affected patients that their records were unlawfully accessed.

Meaningful Breaches of PHI and ePHI

If 500 or more patients' data gets compromised, HIPAA considers it a meaningful breach. A meaningful breach might occur if your organization's system gets hacked and 500+ patient records are held for ransom.

As with minor breaches, you must report major breaches to the HHS within 60 days or else receive a HIPAA fine. You must also notify every patient affected. In some cases, you may need to notify local law enforcement, too.

How to Avoid HIPAA Violations

It's easy to avoid a HIPAA fine. All you have to do is follow these two tips.

Learn the HIPAA Regulations

HIPAA has multiple regulations commonly known as HIPAA rules. You need to know

what these rules are and how they apply to you. HIPAA rules include:
  • The Privacy Rule
  • The Security Rule
  • he Breach Notification Rule
  • The Omnibus Rule
  • The Enforcement Rule
When you know what you should and shouldn't do in case of a breach of one of these rules, you can prevent your organization from getting fined.

Find Out if HIPAA Rules Apply to Your Business

Did you know that HIPAA rules don't just apply to health care providers? Covered Entities (CEs) and their Business Associates (BAs) must adhere to HIPAA regulations.

CEs include providers, payers, and even health care clearinghouses. BAs include any third-party organization that works with a CE and accesses PHI or ePHI, including IT firms, management companies, and storage providers.

How to Stay HIPAA Compliant With VP Scribes

So, can a HIPAA violation occur in your healthcare practice? Team up with Virtual Physician Scribes to secure your charting work while keeping HIPAA compliant.

Contact VP Scribes to learn how we protect your patient data with our transcription services.

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