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The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act

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The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, also known as HIPAA was created in 1996. (www.health.state.tn.us/hipaa) The goal of HIPAA is to protect patient’s confidentiality of their health care information, help control administration costs and to make it accessible to keep health insurance. HIPAA requires health care providers, health care clearinghouses and health plans to follow their rules. HIPAA protects patient’s demographic information called Protected Health Information, also known as PHI. Some consequences of not maintaining confidentiality can fall on the employers and the employees. They can be penalized for not cooperating with HIPAA regulations. Some examples of penalties are, for general disclosures, one hundred dollars for each violation and up to twenty five thousand dollars maximum.

For wrongful disclosure penalties can be anywhere from fifty thousand dollars to two hundred and fifty thousand dollars plus no more than ten years of imprisonment. I feel that this can seriously affect myself, and anyone else in their perceived health care position. Patient’s Protected Health Information is very private and should not be out in the open for anyone to be able to get a hold of. As a health care professional, you should know when and what kind of information could be shared and what cannot be. When telling family about you day at work, it is ok to explain a situation, but not sharing any identifiable information of that patient.

Like about the time when I sent a patient to the emergency room from the orthopedic office that I work for. I came home that day and was so proud of the medical staff and myself at my office for saving the patients life and told my family the situation that happened. I obviously left out any patient identifiers to keep my self from breaking HIPAA regulations. It can be a very difficult thing to follow, especially if you happen to work in a small town that you grew up in, and a lot of people you know happen to also be your patients. But its better to follow the rules of HIPAA then to end up paying fines, loosing your job, or worse, going to jail.

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