Every licensed medical professional is entrusted with extremely confidential information about their patients. Under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), not only are they required to not share this information themselves, but they are also required to make sure that all patient information is protected from unauthorized access. Doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals are only supposed to access a patient’s medical record if they have a valid reason to do so. Any type of breach of this duty can result in serious legal consequences, including action taken against their professional license.
Under HIPAA, there are clear and concise rules regarding when a medical professional is allowed to access a patient’s record. There must be a known reason why the professional is accessing the record, such as the patient coming in to find out the results of a diagnostic test, etc. If the records are of a patient who is not under the professional’s care, then the patient must first have given written authorization giving permission to do so, such as a person who is changing doctors and authorized their current doctor to release their records to the new doctor.
Unfortunately, there are situations where a medical professional will access the records of a person who is not a patient or is planning to be a patient. Since the majority of medical records are electronic, it can be all too easy to do this.
Regardless of the reason why a medical professional decides to look at a patient’s record without authorization, getting caught doing so can lead to serious consequences. Several months ago, a doctor in Kentucky was fired from his position at a hospital, but the state medical board suspended the doctor’s license after it was discovered that the doctor had been accessing medical records of women who he was interested in dating.
Consequences of Unauthorized Access
Violation of HIPAA is considered a serious offense. Not only can a medical professional lose his or her job and have their license suspended, but there can also be civil lawsuits filed by the patients whose records were breached. And since HIPAA is a federal law, the professionals could even face federal criminal charges if authorities feel the circumstances warrant such action.
Contact a Chicago Professional License Defense Attorney
If you have been accused of breaching HIPAA regulations, do not delay in contacting a Cook County medical license defense lawyer for legal assistance. Call Williams & Nickl, LLC at 312-335-9470 to schedule a free and confidential consultation.