HIPAA Privacy Right of Patients: 5 Things You Should Know

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) has given a new dimension to the way a patient’s confidential information is handled and used by the healthcare providers. This Federal Act lays down stringent guidelines that all healthcare providers must follow in order to avoid the heavy fines and penalties that comes as a result of non-compliance.

Now, the patients have all the rights and control over their own health records. According to the privacy rule, today’s health care providers cannot deny you this right and will have to respond to your requests with a specific time period. You can also change any incorrect information in your health record.

Five major things you should know about your privacy rights are as follows:

• When your confidential health information is to be used for reasons other than treatment, then you have the right to determine who can and cannot access your records. If your confidential information is used without your permission, then it is a violation of the HIPAA.

• The HIPAA privacy rules also provide certain rights to the health care providers. The provider can share your health records without your specific consent to insurance agencies, government agencies and in the interest of the public.

• Access to your health records should be limited to only authorized personnel. All employees are required to follow the safeguards at all times to prevent misuse of patient data. The privacy rule does not allow unauthorized employees to access or use patient data for any reason.

• An employee should be authorized based on his specific role in the organization. Some employees so not need your entire health information, and they should be restricted from having complete access. Therefore, it is essential to identify those who require restricted access and complete access based on the employees’ specific work function.

• If for any reason your health record is shared in an unauthorized manner, it can lead to criminal and civil violation. Stringent penalties are enforced on the basis of the extent of the violation.

One way to track dealings of employees with patient records is to maintain a log. This log should contain information about who accessed the patient data, when, and their purpose of doing so. If a specific employee is noted to access records repeatedly without any reason, then the violation can be noticed and corrected easily.

It is the responsibility of the health care organizations to train their employees about the HIPAA privacy rules. This is mainly to make sure that all employees comply with the HIPAA rules and regulations. This in turn will lead to fewer cases of violations. Healthcare providers that are found to have repeated violations and are unable to stop the violations may lose their license to practice.

If you report a violation of your privacy right, the health care provider must correct the breach within a specified time period. If the health care provider requests for an extension, it may be granted to them. In the event that the correction is not made even after the extended time frame, then penalties may be imposed in the form of heavy fines and even imprisonment.