Question: I just need my own hospital records, but I need to fill out a special form to be HIPAA compliant. The form seems burdensome. What is HIPAA and what is the reason for it?
AL, Long Beach
A: HIPAA is the federal health insurance portability and accountability law that was passed in 1996. The primary goal of HIPAA is to protect patient privacy. Therefore, confidential information about a patient’s health cannot be shared with others without the patient’s permission or consent. The privacy of your medical records is considered very important.
Please note that HIPAA applies to health care providers, health insurance plans, health information centers, and business partners involved in activities such as claims processing, data analysis, usage verification, and billing. Thus, HIPAA affects, among others, doctors, dentists, chiropractors, psychologists, nursing homes and hospitals.
Question: If there is a HIPAA violation, what to do and are there any real consequences?
GD, Marina Del Rey
A: If a HIPPA violation occurs, notification must be directed to: (a) the affected individual, (b) the Federal Secretary of Health and Human Resources, and (c) in some cases, the media.
There are a number of corrective actions that can be taken when HIPPA is violated. An employer can solve this problem from the inside, and then someone can lose their job. The organization itself may face sanctions from one or more professional councils. And criminal cases may arise.
The civil penalty for a HIPPA violation is between $ 1,000 and $ 25,000 if there are multiple violations. Criminal penalties can be harsh; for example, the minimum fine for willful HIPAA violation is $ 50,000 and the maximum is $ 250,000 (restitution may also be required), and jail sentences may be imposed.
Ron Sokol has been a practicing lawyer for over 35 years and has served as a judge, mediator and arbitrator on many occasions. It is important to remember that this column is a summary of the law and should not be considered or construed as legal advice, let alone a substitute for actual consultation with a qualified professional.