Home Health How to Avoid a HIPAA Violation: Tips for Healthcare Professionals‍

How to Avoid a HIPAA Violation: Tips for Healthcare Professionals‍


The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is a set of rules that gives individuals control over their healthcare information. The security and privacy of medical records are essential for protecting sensitive data and keeping personal information private.

When working in the healthcare industry, avoiding HIPAA violations is essential. If you’re unfamiliar with HIPAA, it stands for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. (1)

What is a HIPAA Violation?

The federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) protects the privacy and security of people’s health information. If your business violates HIPAA, you could be fined or even face criminal charges. 

If your employees don’t understand their responsibilities in keeping health information secure, they could mistakenly violate HIPAA and risk your patients’ privacy. HIPAA violations can have severe consequences, including: 

  • A fine of up to $50,000 per violation. 
  • Criminal charges in extreme cases. 
  • Damaged reputation and loss of business. 
  • Increased costs to train employees on security protocols.

What Constitutes a HIPAA Violation?

HIPAA violations include negligence or confusion about the law itself. They can take various forms but are often rooted in failing to secure patient information and privacy. If you’re unsure about the rules, you should review them, as ignorance is not a valid excuse for a violation. HIPAA violations can include: 

  • Making unauthorized disclosures of patient information. 
  • Failure to protect the confidentiality of patient information. 
  • Failure to properly dispose of patient information. 
  • Using patient information for reasons other than patient care.

How to Avoid a HIPAA Violation

As a healthcare provider, you must know what a HIPAA violation is and how to avoid it. Here are some things you can do to ensure that you comply with HIPAA and avoid a HIPAA violation. 

– Educate your staff: Train your staff on their responsibilities when it comes to protecting patient information. Ensure they know what they can and cannot do regarding health data. 

– Create a plan: Create a HIPAA compliance plan. This will help you to focus on your security vulnerabilities and help you to create a plan to address those. 

– Use encryption: Make sure you are correctly encrypting patient data. This will help to protect that information in the event of a breach.

Stay informed and up to date on the latest regulations.

New regulations are often added to HIPAA, so staying updated with the latest version and amendments is essential. The best way to stay informed and up-to-date on the latest regulations is to sign up for email updates from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). 

Another way to stay informed is to follow HHS on social media. HHS has a Facebook page and a Twitter account where they post their most recent news and announcements. (2)

Don’t share patient information without consent.

Be very careful about who you share patient information. Make sure you only share patient information with individuals who need it. Patient information should only be shared for treatment, payment, or operations (TPO). 

If you are unsure if you can share information, it is best not to share it. You will not get in trouble for not sharing information you are unsure about. You will only get in trouble if you share information without consent and are not sure if you are allowed to share it.

Keep your facility’s physical premises secure – and know when you are not secure.

HIPAA compliance is not just about electronic information. You also have to be sure that your physical premises are secure. This includes keeping patient information out of sight and locking cabinets or drawers. 

This also includes keeping unwanted visitors out of your facility. If someone unauthorized can enter your facility, they may be able to see or access patient information. This is a HIPAA violation, and you should report it immediately.

HR Lessons from the Final Rule: Wrapping Up

The final rule issued in the fall of 2002 concluded that the health care industry must take a leading role in protecting patients’ health information privacy and security. The rule reflected three significant changes in the approach to protecting health information: 

  • Application of the concept of risk management.
  • Using risk assessment to prioritize areas for attention, rather than checking off a list of requirements one by one. 
  • Elimination of the general rule for providers to keep written medical records for at least six years. 
  • Expansion of the entities covered by the Privacy Rule to include health insurance providers, clearinghouses, and others involved in the financial aspects of health care.


HIPAA violations can have severe consequences. They can hurt your organization’s reputation and create a risk of legal action. To avoid a HIPAA violation, healthcare providers must be aware of their responsibilities regarding protecting patient information.