The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) sets the national standards for privacy in health care. Under HIPAA, the sharing of an individual’s medical records or personal health information is limited, placing more control in the hands of patient.
HIPAA applies to all forms of communication, including electronic and oral, and covers all medical information about the patient. Under HIPAA, medical information cannot be shared with anyone, including other medical professionals, without the patient’s express consent.
Common HIPAA Violations
Some of the most common causes of HIPAA violations are:
- Poorly Trained Employees
- Improper Disposal of Records
- Unencrypted Data/Hacking
- Theft of Devices
- Generally Poor Security
Under HIPAA, healthcare providers must train employees and secure data to prevent sensitive patient information from becoming public.
What Happens When HIPAA is Violated?
When a violation of HIPAA is unintentional, there may be no consequences so long as the issue is corrected within 30 days. However, fines can start at $100 for HIPAA violations and may reach $25,000 when similar breaches continue. In some cases, a HIPAA violation will also result in criminal charges.
Criminal consequences may include jail time, significant fines, and a loss of medical licensing. Knowingly violating HIPAA with malicious intent or for personal gain can carry criminal consequences of up to 10 years in prison. Even in these cases, however, a HIPAA violation will not typically fall under medical malpractice.
What is Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice occurs when a healthcare provider fails to adhere to the standard of care to which all patients are entitled. This can include things such as medication errors, missed or delayed diagnosis, surgical errors, birth injury, and anything else related directly to patient care.
HIPAA protects a patient’s right to privacy, not to a certain standard of care. As such, HIPAA Violations do not typically qualify as medical malpractice. If you are uncertain about your rights, talking to an attorney can help put you on the best path.
We Help Victims of Medical Malpractice
Kline & Specter, PC has a long history of securing substantial verdicts and settlements in medical malpractice claims, including record-breaking awards in state and federal courts. If you have been seriously injured or a loved one has been killed due to medical malpractice, we are here to listen to your claim and help you determine the best course forward. We maintain offices in Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, and New York. We work with firms outside of these jurisdictions for cases elsewhere in the country. Case consultations are free.