January 15, 2010, Newsletter Issue #214: Protect your PHI (protected health information)

Tip of the Week

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Stimulus Package) created changes to HIPAA Privacy and Security rules. Congress passed the act on February 17, 2009. The legislation created new tools for the aggressive enforcement of the HIPAA Privacy and Security rules. A violation of the HIPPA Privacy and Security rules could result in additional enforcement (in the form of penalties) against those who do not adhere to the law. You must be aware of how a professional administrator, doctor, employee or any other professional may violate your rights by speaking or displaying your protected health information (PHI) that others may hear or see.

This is your Protected Health Information (PHI)
Address information
Telephone numbers
FAX numbers
Electronic mail addresses (email)
social security numbers 
Medical record numbers, including a prescription number
Health plan beneficiary numbers (Member IDs)
Account numbers

Examples of wrongful disclosure of PHI include:
Placing PHI in the subject line of an e-mail
Failing to encrypt an e-mail containing PHI that is sent outside of the professional’s office
Asking you to leave PHI information in a common area
Asking you to yell out your PHI information in a physician’s waiting room
Keep an ear open in your doctor’s office, at a lab, hospital or radiology center. Mention the violation to those individuals that do violate your rights and if you want to take it a step further, report them to the authorities and fines may be enacted against them.  http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/privacy/hipaa/understanding/index.html

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