The simplest explanation of The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), is that a person’s healthcare information is private. No one is the healthcare field can discuss a person’s disease, condition, etc., without written permission from the patient or, in some cases, the patient’s next of kin or health care proxy (person who makes decision for the patient if they are no longer able too).
When a patient signs the HIPAA compliance form, there is a section that asks them to state who may receive information about their condition, treatment, etc., and only the people listed can receive any information about the patient.
There is an exception to this rule: specific other parties may have the privilege to the patient’s healthcare information. Such parties include the following:
- Other physicians/surgeons who are consulting and or treating the patient
- Health insurance companies
- Peer review and similar situations that may arise during the care of the patient
- Home health care providers
Of course, the nursing staff, physical therapists, occupational therapists, respiratory therapists, or anyone who is providing a medical service to the patient, has access to the information. Access is also granted to administrative health staff members such as social workers, receptionists in an office, a hospital or long-term nursing care facility, etc.
Often times, it is difficult for people to protect a patient’s or resident’s privacy because they know the person and want to share the information, which if the do comes with a minimal “punishment” of termination.
What is HIPAA?
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, normally referred to as just “HIPAA,” was approved by Congress to expand access of patient information to the health insurance companies and to offer a nationwide standardized security for all individual’s health information.
Long gone are the days when a neighbor could receive information about his or her neighbor as a patient. HIPAA is so strict that if a patient is hospitalized or placed in a nursing home, the administration and staff no longer have the right to even release that simple, seemingly unimportant information, unless the patient agrees to such release.
While physicians and nearly all healthcare workers from every area of a facility are aware of the HIPAA regulations, most of the general public have no idea what HIPAA even is unless they are faced with a situation in which the rules and regulations must be explained to them. Even when a person goes to visit the doctor, they have to sign a HIPAA Confidentiality Form and sadly most people don’t even pay attention to what they are signing.
If you have a loved one who receives care from St. Bernardine Care Providers in the Apple Valley, Victorville, or Irvine areas of Southern California, we can assure you we respect their privacy and make certain their healthcare information is protected by the security of HIPAA.