Patient Privacy Act (HIPAA) in Nursing Practice
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPPA) is a law whose primary purpose is to protect patients’ confidential health information. The Privacy Rule’s standards govern the disclosure of personal health information (“Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act,” 2021). Healthcare professionals should familiarize themselves with these guidelines and respect patient confidentiality. For example, in medical practice for the care of the elderly, as in other practices, there is a need to make records using the EHR system. If nurses are not attentive enough, they can leave computers unattended, and someone can accidentally find out personal information about a patient’s health. This is a very dangerous situation, as the consequences can be serious for both the medical institution and the nurse. Moreover, if the violation was not noticed immediately, it can be detected over time and the medical institution will have to pay fines considering the limitation period of the violation. This procedure is determined by the fact that HIPAA is retroactive.
The most common consequences for HIPAA violations include financial penalties, loss of income from Medicare payments, termination of an employment contract, criminal charges, and sanctions. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) enforces legal action if an individual or a medical institution violates the HIPAA Privacy Rule. For example, financial penalties can amount from several thousand dollars up to $ 1.5 million (“Top five consequences of HIPAA violations,” 2020). The medical institution may also lose Medicare payments or part of them. Employees who violate the rule can lose their jobs, even if the violation happened unintentionally. The most severe consequences are criminal charges or imprisonment against violators. Finally, sanctions may affect not only those employees who committed the violation but also those who knew about it but did not report it.
Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). (2021). CDC.
Top five consequences of HIPAA violations. (2020). RSI.