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As the federal government zeroes in on fraud in the healthcare sector, health care providers should be aware that the privacy rule of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is rising as a source of criminal liability. This rule establishes uniform national standards to protect the medical records and personal health information of individuals. It demands safeguards to ensure privacy and also sets limits on what — if anything — may be disclosed without a patient’s consent.

The criteria for proving criminal liability under the privacy rule is direct, making violations simpler for prosecutors to prove. Any provider that violates HIPAA privacy rules by intentionally using or obtaining individually identifiable health information or shares it with someone else may face penalties such as a fine, jail time, or both.

One example of a HIPAA violation case in 2014 involved an employee working for a Texas hospital. The employee accessed personal health information for the purposes of personal gain and plead guilty. The individual was sentenced to several months in prison.

Health care providers should ensure there are thoroughly devised protocols in place to prevent and respond to the unauthorized disclosure of protected health information.

To read more, visit https://www.statnews.com/2018/07/02/criminal-prosecution-violating-hipaa/.

This update is by Abril Law, a law firm comprised of attorneys Jorge M. Abril and Sinead Baldwin. Our services include medical reimbursement, commercial litigation, and more. If you have any questions or wish to schedule an appointment, please call 305-373-0901 to speak with one of our attorneys. We look forward to working with you.

This information is provided for educational or informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. The information is not provided in the course of an attorney-client relationship and is not intended to substitute for legal advice.

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