Does HIPAA still confuse you?

Nursing homes and other health care providers have been dealing with HIPAA for two decades now, and the law’s Privacy Rule since 2003. But let’s face it: there is still a lot of confusion about the law intended to protect patient privacy in an era of electronic records.

HIPAA stands for Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, and it was signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1996. The law sets standards that entities like physicians, hospitals and nursing homes must follow to protect individuals’ health information.

Many providers have clamped down on information-sharing to the point of absurdity, though, because they want to err on the side of caution. There actually are a lot of myths about HIPAA, as explored in this article.

Here are some myths that might apply in a nursing home:

• You can’t post residents’ names outside their rooms.

• You can’t call out a patient’s name where others might hear.

• Nurses, doctors and other caregivers must only speak about patients in totally private spaces.

• You must get the patient’s written permission to share his or her health information for any reason.

Educating yourself about HIPAA could not only protect you from claims, it could insulate you from some pretty steep penalties if you were to violate the law. Fines from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services can range from $100 up to $50,000!

This website answers many of your questions, and this one is the government’s website on HIPAA.

If you worry about exposure to this and other risks, get in touch with SCI Underwriting Management. We focus on accounts in the aging services industry.