Avoid Common HIPAA Violations: The HIPAA Minimum Necessary Rule

A breach of the HIPAA Minimum Necessary Rule is a common HIPAA violation that many health care and behavioral health practitioners deal with on a day-to-day basis.

HIPAA regulation is broken up into several different HIPAA Rules that govern the use and transit of protected health information (PHI). HIPAA regulation defines PHI as any demographic information that can be used to identify a patient. Common examples of PHI include names, addresses, phone numbers, full facial photos, Social Security numbers, financial information, insurance ID numbers, and medical records to name a few.

The Minimum Necessary Rule is a national standard that all HIPAA-beholden health care providers must follow as a part of the HIPAA Privacy Rule. The HIPAA Privacy Rules sets standards for all covered entities (ie – health care providers, insurance companies, and health care clearinghouses) about the use and disclosure of patients’ health care data.

The Minimum Necessary Rule is one of the most important standards of the HIPAA Privacy Rule. Other important components of the HIPAA Privacy Rule include provisions for organizational Notice of Privacy Practices, use and disclosure of PHI, and patient access to their medical record.

Common HIPAA Violations: What Does The Minimum Necessary Rule Require?

The Minimum Necessary Rule states that covered entities like behavioral health providers can only access, transmit, or handle the minimum amount of PHI that is necessary to perform a given task.

In practice, that means that sending and accessing excessively or inappropriately large portions of a patient’s medical record could result in a HIPAA violation. Because data breaches are becoming more and more common, the Minimum Necessary Rule was put in place in order to limit the exposure that PHI has to be breached.

Violations of the HIPAA Minimum Necessary Rule are common HIPAA violations that can lead to serious HIPAA audits and fines. HIPAA fines range from $100-$50,000 per incident depending on the level of perceived negligence. That means that an incomplete or ineffective HIPAA program can lead to massive fines for health care organizations of any size. Avoiding common HIPAA violations with a HIPAA compliance program in place is one of the most effective ways that you can protect your behavioral health practice from this growing threat.