What are the Consequences of Violating HIPAA?

Medical professionals are trusted with a great deal of personal and sensitive information when treating their patients. It is the job of doctors to act in the best interest of their patients by safeguarding this information to protect their privacy. This is required under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, commonly known as HIPAA. Under this law, medical professionals are not permitted to disclose patient information to anyone who is not privy to it. In the event that they do, they are in violation and can be held liable. Continue reading below to learn more.

On a daily basis, patients provide medical professionals with a large amount of personal and sensitive information. This is because they trust the doctors who take care of them to act in their best interest, including safeguarding their privacy. It is important that once medical professionals have access to this information, they keep it confidential. It is because of this that the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, commonly known as HIPAA, was put into place in 1996. 

What is HIPAA?

In 1996, HIPAA was enacted to ensure the privacy of patients’ medical records and health information. The law prevents medical professionals from sharing confidential patient information with others as well as making it public. This is the case even if a patient’s condition is not severe or sensitive. All patient information must be kept between the professional and the patient. 

While this is true, patients can choose who is allowed to receive information regarding their medical records. This is done through legal paperwork to allow any loved ones to have access to private documentation. This can be done for spouses, parents, children, siblings, etc. Once consent is allowed, the medical professional is allowed to discuss patient information with designated individuals only without being in violation of HIPAA laws.

What are the Consequences of Violating HIPAA?

If a medical professional violates HIPAA, they can face both civil and criminal penalties. If HIPAA is believed to have been violated, it can be reported by patients, hospitals, and other medical professionals as well. The complaint can be made to the Office of Professional Medical Conduct (OPMC). Once this is done, an investigation can take place and penalties may be imposed. There are four violation levels a professional may be subject to depending on the offense:

  • If a professional did not know they were in violation, they may face a $100-$50,000 fine
  • If a professional claimed they had reasonable cause to violate HIPAA, they may face a $1,000-$50,000 fine
  • If there was willful neglect that was corrected during a certain amount of time, they may face a $10,000 and $50,000 fine
  • If there was willful neglect that was not corrected, they may face a $50,000 fine
  • If there were multiple violations in the same year, they may face a fine of $1.5 million.

Contact our Firm

When a medical professional is accused of misconduct, it is essential that they retain strong legal representation. If you require a medical law attorney for your legal matters, call Paul E. Walker, an experienced New York City OPMC & OPD Lawyer. Please contact the Walker Medical Law firm to set up a free initial consultation.