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The Most Common HIPAA Violations – And Why They Happen

As an organization, you are well aware of how much a HIPAA violation can cost you. A single violation and you can end up with a maximum annual penalty of up to $1.5 million. Considering this huge cost, medical practices need to ensure that they are HIPAA compliant at all times.

The complicated HIPAA regulations are complex, no doubt, but they keep changing every now and then too. This makes it really hard to keep track of these regulations and ensure your organization is compliant with them at the same time too.

To prevent these HIPAA violations, you first need to know what these violations are. We have listed down some of the most common HIPAA violations, and we’re sure it will help you protect your practice from data breaches as well as from exorbitant fines. Let’s get started:

Unsecured and Unencrypted Data

You must place all the data in your organization in a secure location at all times. Your employees, too, should be instructed to place physical files in locked cabinets or desks. Likewise, the digital files should be secured with passwords and be encrypted if possible.

Encryption is not a mandatory HIPAA requirement (it is mandatory in a couple of states only), but data is all the more vulnerable if left unencrypted. On the other hand, encryption offers an additional layer of security to your digital data, so it is highly recommended.

Loss or Theft of Devices

Devices containing data need to be password protected at all times. Thus, in case such devices (smartphones, tablets, or laptops) are stolen or lost, at least the data in them would be safe and secure. Additionally, these devices should be stored in a safe location at all times so that the risk of getting lost or stolen minimizes greatly.

Lack of Information

Your employees are the ones who have the most access to the critical PHI data – which is why they need to be trained to keep that data safe and secure too. Therefore, regular HIPAA training is essential so that your employees don’t make any mistakes, totally unaware of the regulations. Also, frequent employee training is a mandatory requirement of the HIPAA law – so complying with it is essential.

Helping employees understand the gravity of the impact of even a single violation is essential. This would ensure that they steer clear from dishonest practices, even out of mere curiosity.

Improper Disposal of Data

PHI contains critical patient data such as ailments, diagnoses, medical procedures, and even the social security number. Therefore, it is essential to dispose of this data properly. If left in a random location like a trash can, or unsecured computer folder, the information becomes more susceptible to theft  – and this would end up in a HIPAA violation.

Summing Up

While these are some of the most common (and easily preventable violations), you need to be aware of the other, more complex HIPAA regulations too. With well-trained, dedicated staff, it is possible to protect data from any kind of violations. Timely employee training, updated organizational policies, and a careful, reliable staff is all you need to stay away from HIPAA violations.