On August 21, 1996, the Healthcare Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was enacted into law. Prior to the establishment of this law, personal health-related information remained vulnerable to everybody and anybody. There were no set regulations in place with regard to protecting such information. Today, the medical field relies heavily on HIPAA and the value of its privacy.
HIPAA required the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to set in place specific rules and regulations in order to disclose an individual’s health record. This led to the establishment of the HIPAA Privacy Rule and Security Rule. The Privacy Rule, also known as “the Standards for Privacy of Individually Identifiable Health Information,” are nationally recognized standards that are in place to protect certain health-related information.
The Security Rule, also known as “the Security Standards for the Protection of Electronic Protected Health Information,” set forth a national set of security standards for protecting health information that is held or transferred in electronic form. Both rules secure the protection of health information that is technical or non-technical. Entities covered by the Privacy Rule consist of health care clearinghouses, health plans, and all providers who transmit personal health information (PHI), in a digital form regarding transactions of any kind.
HIPAA is important because “a covered health care provider must obtain an individual’s consent prior to using or disclosing protected health information to carry out treatment, payment, or health care operations “[§] 164.506, 65 Federal Register [F.R.] p. 82810. Not only does HIPAA ensure confidentiality between the health care provider and the patient, but it also upholds the integrity of the health care provider. HIPAA ensures that all members of medical organizations adhere to the same set of standards in protecting the security and privacy of patients.
HIPAA is exceptionally useful in instances where an individual receives treatment from multiple doctors. Accordingly, HIPAA allows for multiple treating doctors to gain access to an individual’s health records once consent has been obtained. This way, all treating doctors can assess proper treatment for the patient without the possibility of mistreating or repeating unnecessary treatment. Medical providers and organizations also benefit from HIPAA, as they can avoid paying for other security measures. Additionally, HIPAA assists in minimizing liability.
Today, the medical field continues to rely on HIPAA. Failing to comply with HIPAA rules and regulations can overt to serious liability and legal issues. As such, it is important to fully understand how HIPAA operates. For more information regarding HIPAA, please contact Bedoya & Hussain Law Firm, LLC at (201) 880-9374.