Many Scenarios Can Lead to a HIPAA Investigation
1. Patient Information Destruction
When it comes to avoiding HIPAA Violations, due consideration must be given to how protected patient information is disposed of. Though good intentions and proper procedures are often set in stone, it is often the human factor, that comes into play, which serves as the framework for the violation to be recognized and assessed. Sloppy disposal procedures without regard for protocol often lead to public discovery and disclosure, which is magnified through traditional and social media avenues.
2. Customer Database Breaches
With a seemingly daily occurrence of database breaches, it is of no wonder that individuals feel threatened that their private medical information is being viewed and potentially used in identity theft instances. No matter how diligent pharmacies and physicians are at establishing a fortified defense against database entry, they must ensure confidential data is protected at all cost.
3. Electronic Data Disposal Gets Re-Routed
It may seem simple enough, an IT individual, in a healthcare institution, is doing routine maintenance and an upgrading of the computer system, when the wrong keystroke sends millions of pieces of information, intended to be deleted permanently, onto the Internet. Though proper procedures and instructions are followed, in some instances, how electronic data is routed or deleted is beyond one’s control. Disposal isn’t limited to just computers. Sometimes individuals making photocopies of records will leave the original document behind in the copier feeder.
4. Unauthorized Distribution of Medical Records
Though most staff and personnel has knowledge about dispensing medical information and records only to the patient, there are some lapses in the system, whereby, with devious intentions, a relative, friend or identity thief will secure such information under the guise of helping them out by picking it up for them or that they were authorized to receive such data.
5. Social Media Interaction
Healthcare institutions, pharmacies, and practitioners often fall victim to patient record disclosure or patient criticism, which is something that is unavoidable. How they respond to critiques, charges and allegations can mean if they are subject to a HIPAA investigation. There’s the old adage, if you wouldn’t say it in a crowded elevator, why would you say in on a social media venue?
With the advent of the Internet and the flood of social media sites, privacy has become big business. Being diligent in handling patient data can avoid an inquiry from HIPAA investigators.
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