HIPAA violationsHIPAA violations are surprisingly common, with many healthcare professionals unknowingly committing violations. Breaches could be as simple as misplacing a USB drive or the inappropriate disposal of documentation. To avoid these violations, healthcare professionals should be wary of common HIPAA violations they might be committing. 

HIPAA Violation: Increased Risk with Telehealth

The risk of HIPAA violations is now more common than ever with the surge in demand for telehealth services across the US. More telehealth utilization will put your practice at greater risk of violating HIPAA regulations. This increased risk, caused by a rise in demand, calls for more awareness across the industry. 

According to HIPAA regulations, covered entities must uphold strict privacy and security standards to protect protected health information (PHI). PHI refers to any information that can be used to identify a patient, such as a name, address, phone number, email, medical information, or photos. Covered entities include any healthcare provider, health insurance plan, or healthcare clearinghouse. 

Common HIPAA Violations

Your organization may have already experienced a violation if at any time PHI wasn’t accessed, transmitted, disposed of, or handled properly. HIPAA violations vary greatly in scope and severity, but all breaches must be handled with care.

Here are some common HIPAA violations you should look out for:

  • Keeping nonsecure records containing PHI.
  • Data breaches caused by telehealth or EHR vendors.
  • Stolen or lost devices containing PHI, including USB drives, hard drives, laptops, or phones.
  • Data breaches involving malware, phishing, or ransomware.
  • Disposing of documents and files containing PHI in a way that allows for unauthorized future retrievals or misuse by leaving PHI in a trash can or throwing away a hard drive containing PHI.
  • Lack of HIPAA training for employees who come into contact with PHI. 
  • Sending PHI to wrong patient/address.
  • Misusing social media. 

While your practice might have already committed these common violations, there is always time to act on violations. You should always notify patients of their involvement in a breach according to the Breach Notification Rule. Use this link to report any HIPAA violations or data breaches to The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR).  

The best way to protect your practice from these common HIPAA violations is by putting an effective HIPAA compliance program in place.