5 Common HIPAA Violations and How You Can Avoid Them

5 Common HIPAA Violations and How You Can Avoid Them

Feb 12, 2021, 3:26:33 AM Business

HIPAA compliance is extremely important for organizations that need to deal with PHI (Protected Health Information). It has been mandated to ensure that sensitive patient information stays protected. Thus, some common HIPAA violations can lead to financial penalties – reaching up to $50,000 per occurrence with a maximum penalty of $1.5 million per year. Furthermore, healthcare organizations may lose their license, depending on the severity of the violation. Thus, HIPAA compliance is an absolute necessity for all healthcare organizations.

There are many forms of HIPAA violations – HIPAA regulations are quite complex and are constantly being changed. HIPAA compliance can be quite a daunting task, as it is a continuous process. However, there are some common HIPAA violations, and knowing about them beforehand can help covered entities and business associates detect them in advance and be more aware.

Five common HIPAA violations

Keeping PHI in an unsecured state

One of the most common HIPAA violations occurs when staff members are busy with other tasks, leaving hard copies or their workstations unattended and open for anyone to take a look at. HIPAA requires that any documentation comprising PHI, hard copy or electronic, must constantly be in a secured state and location.

Make it part of the HIPAA training you provide to ensure that employees with access to PHI know that they must keep the documents safe and secure and away from unauthorized eyes. Hard copies can be locked away at assigned locations whereas digital documents should require some form of authorization to access. 

Keeping crucial data unencrypted

Unencrypted data can lead to a lot of issues – it makes it easier for hackers to steal PHI such as names, addresses, Social Security numbers, etc. and can lead to HIPAA violations. 

Make it significantly harder for hackers to steal the data by simply encrypting the sensitive files containing PHI. Also, ensure that while you are dealing with PHI transmission with another party, the data is encrypted.Data breach incidents

Judging by the news, this is arguably one of the most common HIPAA violations. Every time you open a healthcare-related news portal, you will see that a new healthcare data breach incident has taken place, often compromising the PHI of several individuals. In fact, over 30 data breaches have been reported this year, affecting over a million people in the U.S. Many organizations have thought that it will never happen to them, but they end up in the news. and not all publicity is good publicity. 

Hackers are always working on creative ways to hack into your system and steal patient data. They have a lot of tools to choose from, such as phishing and ransomware, and can use them to gain access to the PHI and use the data for nefarious purposes.

Published by Riyan N. Alam

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