by | last updated on January 21, 2016
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), provides protection of a patient’s health information. Therefore, anyone who has access to them could potentially commit a HIPAA violation or medical fraud when that information is shared, whether or not it was done intentionally.Additionally, HIPAA laws also allow patients the right to view their medical records in a timely manner and to make any necessary changes to them so that they are accurate and complete.

Examples of HIPAA Violations

Disclosing a patient’s personal health information can happen a number of ways. Many times it is done without intent. However, this doesn’t prevent an individual or even an entity (such as a physician’s clinic or hospital) from being held accountable.

Even seemingly innocent conversations with others could be considered a violation, such as mentioning a patient’s name and the fact he/she had an appointment or is taking a certain type of medication. Talking in the hallway or on an elevator with a colleague about a patient where others not involved in a patient’s care can hear is a violation.

Healthcare providers who discuss a patient’s medical condition through social media sites, such as Twitter or Facebook, would be considered in violation of HIPAA laws. Even if the doctor’s followers/subscribers don’t know the patient, it doesn’t matter.

Allowing others to view a patient’s medical information would be another type of violation. It could be that a computer screen is turned in such a way that another patient can see what’s on it or throwing personal information into a trash bin, which can be easily accessed by others.

If a medical provider fails to provide a patient a copy of his/her records when requested, this may be considered a violation, including:

  • test results;
  • X-rays;
  • results of an examination;
  • notes written by the doctor; and
  • other health-related information/documentation.

Penalties for HIPAA Violations

The degree of penalty depends on the intent, or lack of, when violating HIPAA laws. For instance, if the person or entity had no awareness of committing such an offense, the fine would range anywhere between $100 and $50,000 for each violation. But it could also result in up to a year in jail.

More serious offenses could include fines that range from $1,000 to $50,000 for each violation and up to five years in jail. But the most severe penalty would be $50,000 or more for each violation and up to ten years imprisonment if done for personal gain or with malicious intent. These typically stem from intentional acts that were not corrected.

The Law Offices of Robert David Malove can help when clients facing charges stemming from HIPAA violations or other instances of medical fraud. Contact an attorney today to learn more about one’s rights when facing these charges.