There are those obvious violations you cannot miss and then there are times your staff may violate HIPAA without ever realizing it. While some violations are easily rectified, there are other times your staff and yourself could make a serious HIPAA violation that could cost you your business. So before you assume your business is in the clear, you may want to examine these common HIPAA violations doctors’ offices make each day.
Welcoming a new patient to your practice is a great way to make them feel comfortable. But, if you publically welcome them—either via a bulletin board in your office or sending a mass email—you are divulging the patients’ names and personal information. Patient names are protected health information, which means just displaying a “welcome” and including the person’s name could be a violation of HIPAA.
Calling Patients to the Examination Room
When you are ready to see a patient, you call them by name in the waiting room. But, does your staff use the patient’s full name or just their first name? If they use the full name, they are disclosing private patient information, even when it is something as innocent as announcing the doctor is ready to see them. Instead, use the patient’s first name.
Patient Check-Ins or Appointment Booking
Checking in a patient or even scheduling their appointment seems quite standard. You ask for his or her name, reason for the visit, then update any information. But, how you ask the patient for could result in a HIPAA violation.
For example, as a patient is checking in, you ask them for his or her full name. You then read off their mailing address, phone number, and perhaps even their date of birth out loud, confirming the information is correct. Other patients in the waiting room or waiting in line to check-in can hear that information; thus, you have divulged private patient information.
When a patient is checking in, have your staff sit in an area away from the waiting room and make sure patients are spaced out enough so that they cannot hear private information. Instead of confirming everything aloud, merely ask the patient checking in if any information has changed.
Leaving Patient Charts Out
It is easy to leave a chart behind in the examination room, but doing so violates that patient’s privacy. Before you allow a new patient to enter the examination room, make sure the previous patient’s protected health information is removed. The same goes for your receptionist’s desk; there should never be charts or other personal information in plain view of others.
Charged with a HIPAA Violation? Get a Health Care Litigation Attorney Right Away
HIPAA violations are very serious. You could find your practice facing fines or worse, lose your license to practice. If your office has a HIPAA complaint or violation, you need a health care litigation attorney. The team at the Law Offices of Peter M. Feaman can help. We are experienced health care attorneys and we have represented physicians and local business owners facing HIPAA violations.