Hospital negligence is not just bodily harm

By Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo & Plotkin LLP

By now pretty much everyone has heard of The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA for short. HIPAA is a set of rules designed to protect patients from the mishandling and illegal disclosure of medical information, among other things. Although most hospitals, clinics and private practices adhere to HIPAA policy and understand the ramifications of violating them, there are occasions where your medical information is unlawfully accessed.

Whether through the prying eyes of employees or just a slip of the tongue by a doctor, sometimes medical information is accessed and then shared with others. When this happens without your written consent, the individuals responsible are in direct violation of HIPAA policy. When this violation occurs in a facility setting, the facility may be held liable for negligence. The negligence comes into play when hospitals, clinics and private practices fail to properly secure medical records, do not adequately educate employees of HIPAA regulation, or employ individuals that violate HIPAA. Doctors, nurses and administrative staff are all required to be educated on HIPAA policy. Likewise, they are required to inform patients of their rights under HIPAA law. Failure to do so leaves the facility open to negligence and HIPAA violation.

In many cases the unlawful access of your medical records may not always be obvious, but if you have experienced something that may signal that this has happened an attorney well versed in hospital negligence may be able to help. Whether you suspect your records have been accessed without your permission, or that someone has shared your personal information, speaking to an attorney can help identify the breach and hold the individual or facility responsible for negligence.

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