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Joy Hicks

Zero Tolerance For Patient Privacy Violations

By January 17, 2011

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According to the Arizona Daily Star, 3 employees were fired for snooping in the confidential records of the victims of last week's shooting in Arizona.

How many health care workers have to be fired for the message to be any clearer? If you do a search of the web, you will find countless instances of health care facilities being fined for HIPAA violations. Health care employees still find it irresistible not to look in to confidential patient records when they are not involved in the patient's care.

As with Tucson University Medical Center, every health care facility should have zero tolerance for patient privacy violations of this sort. It doesn't matter if the employee snoops into the record of a high profile patient or if they are looking at the files of a relative, the same rules should apply.

Fortunately, at the moment there is no evidence that the victims of last weeks unfortunate incident have to worry about their personal information being aired publicly. Whether or not the intention was to sell the story for a quick buck no one knows for certain except for those 3 employees. Either way it was a poor choice in judgement.

This is no better time than now to reiterate to your staff just how important it is to adhere to HIPAA rules. By the way, if your facility doesn't have a written policy in place, it might be a good time to write one.

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