A violation can be as simple as gossip regarding Protected Health Information (PHI). This could also mean the inability to train employees for HIPAA compliance and properly follow its guidelines and policies. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) imposes the HIPAA Privacy and Security Rules. The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) examines the data it collects. The following are the most frequently reported HIPAA violations:
Intruding on Healthcare Data
Intruding the health data of friends, family members, neighbors, coworkers, and celebrities is one of the most frequently committed HIPAA violations, but this can be controlled by using HIPAA compliance software. When they are found out, these breaches generally result in being fired, but it can also lead to criminal charges against the employee concerned. Punishments for healthcare institutions that have not taken steps to stop the snooping of employees are rare. Still, as researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles Health System confirmed, it can happen.
Failure to Conduct an Organization-Wide Risk Analysis
The inability to conduct an annual risk analysis across the entire organization is among the most frequent HIPAA violations that could result in financial penalties. If risk analyses are not regularly conducted, organizations cannot assess whether weaknesses in PHI’s security, integrity, or confidentiality accessibility exist. Thus, the risk will likely go unaddressed, leaving hackers’ doors open.
CMPs for HIPAA violations are defined based on the tiered civil penalty system. HHS secretary: HHS has the discretion to decide how much the fine will be determined by the nature and magnitude of the breach and the nature and severity of the damage resulting from the violation. The secretary is barred from imposing punishments for civil violations (excluding the case of willful negligence) if the breach is rectified within 30 days (this time frame can be increased at HHS’s discretion).
The DOJ deals with the criminal aspects of HIPAA. Similar to other HIPAA penal penalties for civil violations, various degrees of severity can be imposed for criminal offenses. The covered entities and the individuals who, as described below, intentionally obtain or disclose personally identifiable health data that violates the Administrative Simplification Regulations have to pay a penalty of more than $50,000, with a prison sentence of up to one year.
Unsafe Disposal of PHI
When physical PHI and electronic PHI are no longer required and retention periods have run out, HIPAA rules demand that the data be secured and permanently deleted. For papers, this might be done by shredding or pulverizing, while in the case of ePHI, this might be done by degaussing, securing, wiping, or even damaging the electronic devices where it is stored. ePHI is kept to avoid unconstitutional disclosures.
The criminal penalties associated with HIPAA breaches are specifically applicable to covered entities (CEs), including healthcare clearinghouses, healthcare providers who submit claims electronically, and medical card companies.
The most frequently-cited HIPAA mistakes that led to financial penalties are:
- The inability to conduct an overall risk analysis for the organization to determine the stake in security, integrity, and confidentiality accessibility in the case of private health data (PHI) and the inability to sign a HIPAA-compliant business associate agreement, unapproved disclosure of PHI.
- Late breaches
- Negligence in safeguarding PHI