HIPAA

What is HIPAA?

HIPAA stands for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act that was passed by Congress in 1996.*

Why is HIPAA important to phlebotomy?

When American workers switch jobs, or lose their job, HIPAA grants the ability for their health insurance to transfer or continue. This is helpful in that they can keep their insurance coverage after becoming unemployed or simply switch to a different provider.

HIPAA also reduces the risk of insurance fraud. This occurs when someone tries to receive money by intentionally giving false information to healthcare providers. **

Across the entire healthcare industry, every provider has to meet the standards that HIPAA has put in place. Healthcare providers are required to protect each individual’s private health information (PHI) and keep it confidential.

You can find more information on this matter at the US Department of Health and Human Services website.

Will my job require me to follow HIPAA?

As a phlebotomist, it is your duty to follow HIPAA regulations and keep your patients’ private health information secure when it is being transferred, received, handled, or shared.

Some jobs will even give you study materials and will require you to pass a test. This is done to ensure that you have a thorough understanding of the laws in place. You will also be required to sign a document stating that you agree to follow these standards.

What happens if I don’t follow HIPAA?

Depending on the nature of how a violation occurred, there may be a civil or criminal penalty. Fines can range from $100 to $1.5 million. Imprisonment can range from a single year, up to ten years. Criminal penalties are much harsher than civil penalties. The main difference is that civil offenses are not intentional, while criminal offenses are.

In the field of phlebotomy, it can not be stressed enough how important it is that you follow HIPAA standards very closely; Protect your patients and protect yourself.

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*http://www.dhcs.ca.gov/formsandpubs/laws/hipaa/Pages/1.00WhatisHIPAA.aspx

**http://www.phpni.com/HIPAAPrivacy/FraudPrevention.aspx

“Don’t talk about patients in public, sign, CPMC, San Francisco, California, USA” by Cory Doctorow is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

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