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Houston HIPPA Compliance Lawyers

November 20, 2016 Federal Criminal Attorneys

Patient privacy is an issue that demands serious legal attention. This is nowhere more true than in the very sensitive area of healthcare providers amassing great stores of personal information related to the patients they treat. The advent of the Internet has made it easier than ever to have all of the confidential information given by a patient available to access at any time. This confidential data is more valuable than ever, and is thus more susceptible to be mined or otherwise misused by unethical criminal parties for their private gain.

Are There Measures In Place To Protect The Information Of Patients?

As noted above, the possibility of this information being sold or misused in various unethical ways is a very great source of concern. The public has naturally demanded full protection. This is why the Federal government has taken steps to ensure that such actions do not occur. In the event that they do occur, they will be punished in a prompt and severe fashion. Recent state and Federal laws have been passed that deal expressly with this very sensitive legal issue.

What Is HIPAA And How Does It Apply To Your Practice?

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was set up in 1996 with the express purpose of protecting the private information of patients who submit this information to various healthcare practices during the course of their treatment. The initial purpose of HIPAA was to simplify the administrative process that governs the protection of confidential patient information. As the Internet has developed, HIPAA has been progressively expanded in order to provide more up to date and effective protection.

What Types Of Practices Do HIPAA Compliance Laws Apply To?

If you are the owner of a healthcare practice that submits claims to Medicare, Medicaid, or other services, the HIPAA compliance laws will apply directly to you. These laws have been enacted with the special purpose of protecting the private information (personal as well as billing related) of the patients that you have under your personal care at the institution you own or manage. This includes private practices, hospitals, hospices, and other types of healthcare facilities. The HIPAA laws apply with especially force to claims that are submitted electronically, i.e., over the Internet.

What Kind Of personal Information Is Covered Under HIPAA Rules?

All information regarding the treatment and billing of patients who are being treated in your practice is covered under the complex set of rules enacted by the HIPAA. This means that you could be held liable for any breach of this information, especially if this information is unlawfully transmitted by electronic means. If you are proven to be the one responsible for such a breach, you could be subject to severe penalties, including loss of your license, heavy fines, and prison time.

When Is The Best Time To Consult A Houston HIPAA Compliance Lawyer?

It’s an excellent idea to hire the services of a professional Houston HIPAA compliance lawyer as soon as you open your practice. This way, you will have professional legal advice on hand at all times in order to guide you in your day to day dealings with patients. The individual laws and regulations that make up HIPAA are very complex and subject to change without prior notice. They can be very difficult to get a handle on, particularly if you are engaged in the day to day operations of your practice and not in a position to pay particularly close attention to the latest developments.

Professional Legal Guidance Is A Must To Protect Your Practice

This is precisely why you will need to engage the advice and counsel of a reputable and professional Houston HIPAA compliance attorney. With expert legal advice in your corner, you can navigate this complex legal web and ensure that your practice will be safe from liability in the event of a lawsuit or other action brought by the state or Federal government. Ignorance of the law is no excuse. This is why your HIPAA compliance lawyer is on hand to protect your interests and keep you abreast of the latest changes in the law. Professional legal guidance is an absolute must if you value your practice.

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Philadelphia HIPPA Compliance Lawyers

November 17, 2016

Medical professionals are bound by the provisions found in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. Commonly known as HIPPA, questions about compliance can lead to serious legal issues for doctors, nurses, and others who work in hospitals, clinics, and other medical settings. In order to understand what sort of issues can arise, it’s necessary to take a look at HIPPA and what it requires.

The Provisions Found in HIPPA

HIPPA is designed to ensure that the following is provided to patients in just about every medical setting:

  • Maintaining Health Insurance: A key element in HIPPA provides individuals who lose their jobs or move to a new employer to maintain coverage. The method used may be transferring to another group plan or utilizing the provisions found in COBRA, which was passed in 1986.
  • Ensure Privacy With Health Care Information: This provision helps to limit access to patient data to only those who need it to administer treatment and individuals that the patient has specifically approved for access.
  • Establishment of Industry Wide Standards for Medical Billing and other Procedures: The goal is to bring uniformity to the process and ensure that the standards are in full compliance with other health care regulations and statutes.
  • Reduce Health Care Fraud and Abuse: Checks and balances within the system make the process of overcharging or billing patients for procedures that were never done more difficult.

What Does HIPPA Mean for Health Care Providers?

Much of the focus on HIPPA has to do with protecting patient information and improving health care. Many of those same provisions within the Act provide protection for health care professionals as well. By complying with all regulations, a doctor, nurse, technician, and even medical institutions insulate themselves from the potential of being sued.

Penalties for Failing to Comply With HIPPA Regulations

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights is responsible for reviewing any allegations that a HIPPA violation has taken place. The range of penalties varies, depending on the nature of the offense and the degree of intent surrounding the events.

  • When a violation is verified but classed as unknowing, a minimum penalty of $100.00 USD per violation is imposed. Maximum penalties can be as high as $50,000.00 per violation
  • Violations that are deemed to occur with reasonable cause incur a minimum of $1,000.00 per event with maximum penalties of $50,000 per violation.
  • Willful neglect with a correction within a reasonable time frame carries a minimum of $10,000.00 per event and a maximum of $50,000.00 per violation.
  • Willful neglect that is not corrected within a reasonable amount of time carries a minimum and a maximum penalty of $50,000.00 per violation.

Annual maximums are provided for within HIPPA terms as well as maximums for each individual violation. Currently, states do have the authority to limit those annual maximums provided the figures remain within compliance with the statutes found in the Act.

Are Civil Suits Possible?

There is nothing to prevent the filing of a civil suit against a medical professional or a medical facility. This means that along with having to deal with allegations and possible fines by a government agency, the accused party also faces the possibility of being taken to court by a patient, the patient’s estate, or surviving family members of the patient.

Does Legal Representation Provide Support to the Client?

In the event that claims of HIPPA violations arise, it pays to secure legal representation as quickly as possible. The lawyer will set about reviewing all the data related to the allegations. This includes obtaining medical records and any formal reviews that have taken place. The goal is to determine if there is any basis for the allegations, and determine what type of action is needed to protect the rights of the client.

Along with determining if grounds exist, the lawyer will also seek to uncover any information that brings further light to the situation. This can often include interviewing potential witnesses who have first-hand experiences with the events in question. Citing legal precedents that are relevant to the circumstances are also likely to be part of the defense. Seeking to identify any mitigating factors that may have led to the allegation is also part of the overall investigation.

Without legal representation, the accused party stands to face substantial financial penalties, the loss of a medical license, and an inability to continue working in the profession. With the aid of a lawyer, it’s possible to ensure that all the evidence is brought forward and the potential for a fair outcome is present.

San Diego HIPPA Compliance Lawyers

November 15, 2016

The law that sets the standards for safeguarding sensitive patient data is known as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA). A company that deals with protected health information (PHI) must be in full compliance with HIPPA. These are companies who are responsible for making certain their affected network, physical process, and security measures meet with HIPPA standards.

Enforcement
The government organization responsible for making certain all HIPPA standards are appropriately followed is the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). They are responsible for the investigation of all complaints filed regarding noncompliance with HIPPA. The HHS is also responsible for performing compliance reviews. This is done to confirm a responsible entity is in compliance with HIPPA regulations. The HHS also educate entities to help them understand how to comply with necessary HIPPA requirements and rules.

Noncompliance
The entity within the HHS responsible for enforcing HIPPA rules and regulations is Office for Civil Rights (OCR). It will gather information and carefully review it for compliance. In many cases, the OCR may find an entity did not intentionally violate any of the HIPPA Security and Privacy Rules. The first thing the OCR does after receiving a complaint is to work with an entity and make corrections as well as provide a resolution agreement. Should an entity fail to comply with HIPPA rules and regulations, they could be subject to civil as well as criminal penalties. The OCR may refer a complaint to the Department of Justice (DOJ) for investigation and prosecution.

Civil Violations
There are situations when an entity responsible for following HIPPA may not resolve issues as requested by the OCR. It is up to the OCR to implement predetermined monetary penalties. The amount of these penalties is based on a civil penalty structure that has multiple tiers. The secretary of the HHS has the authority to assess an amount that must be paid by an entity guilty of noncompliance. The secretary can only impose a civil penalty is cases of intentional negligence if a violation is not remedied within 30 days.

Classification of HIPPA Violations
The penalty structure for HIPPA violations contains four different categories.

CATEGORY 1
A covered entity commits a violation but was unaware of the violation and was not able to realistically avoid it. It happened even with a sufficient level of care to comply with HIPPA rules and regulations. This could result in a minimum fine of $100 for each violation up to $50,000.

CATEGORY 2
This is a violation by a covered entity who should have been aware it existed. They may have been able to avoid it with a sufficient level of care. Their violation does not reach the level of willful negligence. This could result in a minimum fine of $1,000 per violation up to $50,000.

CATEGORY 3
This is a violation performed with an intentional and willful negligence of HIPPA rules and regulations. The covered entity does eventually try to correct the violation. This could result in a minimum fine of $10,000 per violation up to $50,000.

CATEGORY 4
This is a violation that involves intentional and willful negligence of HIPPA regulations. There is no attempt on the part of the covered entity to correct a violation. This could result in a minimum fine of $50,000 per violation.

Criminal Punishment
When an entity has committed criminal violations regarding HIPPA compliance, it will be recommended to the DOJ to be handled. There are different levels of criminal violations. These are covered entities as well as individuals who intentionally obtain or disclose health information covered by HIPPA. This violation could begin with a fine up to $50,000 and imprisonment of twelve months. An offense done under false pretense could involve a $100,000 fine and up to five years in prison. Should an offense be committed with the expressed intention of selling, using health information for personal gain, malicious harm or transfer of health information for commercial advantage, it could result in a fine of up to $250,00 in addition to a prison term of up to ten years.

CMIA
When it comes to patient privacy in California, a patient is covered by HIPPA on the federal level, and the Confidentiality of Medical Information Act (CMIA) on the state level. There are many areas of protecting patient privacy where the CMIA is more strict than HIPPA with establishing safeguards. An experienced attorney knows how to help entities comply with HIPPA and the CMIA.

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