The Health Information Privacy and Accountability Act is nothing to take lightly. Privacy is an important issue in this country and the basis of the doctor-patient relationship. Failing to respect that privacy is a breach of trust that threatens to undermine the healthcare system in our country. For this reason, healthcare providers that break this trust by violating the Health Information Privacy and Accountability Act must face penalties appropriate to their violation. Here is a breakdown on some of the tiers of violations and the penalties that they incur.
Fairly self explanatory, an unintentional HIPAA violation can happen because of a number of things. Most commonly, this is training issue that results in uninformed staff making unintentional mistakes. Other times, these can occur because of problematic data transferring between different business associates.
The penalty for an unintentional HIPAA violation can result in a $100-$50,000 fine. If the violation was severe enough, even if it was unintentional, a healthcare administrator could serve up to 1 year in prison.
A reasonable cause violation means that the healthcare provider intentionally caused an action that led to a breach of private information, but believed that they were in accordance when it happened. Like unintentional violations, a reasonable cause HIPAA violation is usually a training issue. This is why it is highly important to understand the ins and outs of the Health Information Privacy and Accountability Act so that you can make informed decisions for your staff.
The penalty for a reasonable cause HIPAA violation can result in a $1000-$50,000 fine. If the violation was severe enough and caused considerable damage to a patient in some way, a healthcare administrator could serve up to 1 year in prison.
Willful Neglect - Corrected
Also fairly self explanatory, a willful neglect violation means that the violation occurred because of direct negligence of a healthcare provider. A corrected version of this violation means that the provider worked to have the HIPAA violation corrected and sorted out any systemic issues within 30 days.
The penalty for a corrected willful neglect HIPAA violation can result in a $10,000-$50,000 fine. Usually, these entail of giving information under false pretenses, in which case an administrator could land up to a 5 year prison sentence if the case is severe enough.
Willful Neglect - Not Corrected
This is essentially the same as a corrected willful neglect violation, except in this case the HIPAA violation was not corrected in 30 days, and no movement to settle the patient was made. These will usually lead to bad reputations for healthcare providers, and will incur further investigations for malpractice and neglect.
The penalty for a non-corrected willful neglect HIPAA violation is a flat $50,000, and no less. If it is discovered that information was given out under false pretenses, and no attempt at correction is made, a healthcare administrator will serve a sentence of up to 5 years in prison.
Any repeat of these violations after previous violations will result in a flat $1.5 million fine, regardless of the intentionality. This is why it is important to learn from previous violations to tighten your system and ensure efficiency. Make efforts to fix any holes in your health information security. Also, any violations made for personal gain or with malicious intent could land a 10 year prison sentence.