HIPAA: Know Your Healthcare Rights

Most people put their full trust in their doctors and medical professionals without understanding the healthcare rights they have as a patient. The medical field is complex and can be difficult to understand, and even more so during a stressful time when someone in the family is sick.

Developing a trusted relationship with your medical professionals is important to do, as it can help you to feel more comfortable receiving medical treatment during a time of illness. Equally  important is knowing and understanding your basic medical and healthcare rights.

Through the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA, patients are lawfully given basic medical rights to protect them in the event of malpractice or mishandling of their medical records.

The only way to know that your healthcare rights have been violated is to understand your healthcare rights from the beginning. A HIPAA violation attorney can also help you to understand your specific rights under HIPAA as well as state and federal laws.

How much do you know about your rights at the doctor’s office?

What is HIPAA?

HIPAA was signed into law in the late 90s and remains in effect today. Its purpose is to simplify the healthcare industry, eliminate waste, prevent fraud, and allow people to maintain health insurance when between jobs. HIPAA law includes numerous regulations, but there are some violations that happen most often.

The mishandling of Protected Health Information (PHI) is the most common type of HIPAA violation. Under US law, protected health information is any information about health status, provision of health care, or payment for health care that can be linked to a specific person.

Examples of PHI

PHI includes diagnoses, treatment information, test results, and prescription information. Even basic information that you provide at the hospital or doctor’s office such as birth date, gender, ethnicity, and emergency contact information are protected. Remember – this information is only PHI if it can be linked to an individual. If all identifiers are stripped from the data, it ceases to be PHI.

When your information is protected as PHI, healthcare workers have to handle it in a certain way.

What are my rights when it comes to my PHI?

Here are just some of the rights you should be aware of when it comes to the HIPAA laws and PHI:

Healthcare workers are not allowed to distribute PHI using any personal platform including text messaging, social media, or via any other medium. Impermissible disclosure of PHI information is a HIPAA violation.

Healthcare employees need to take care to properly dispose of PHI, encrypt PHI to prevent unauthorized access or disclosure, and do everything necessary to protect the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of the PHI. In other words, measures must be taken to keep your health information confidential – between you and your doctor. Your health information must maintain integrity, or accuracy, across hospital records. Finally, it must be available for healthcare employees to reference for your health and safety.

Other Basic Healthcare Rights

Other patient rights under HIPAA and state laws include:

Informed Consent

Refers to the patient’s right to receive enough information to make an informed decision about their treatment.

Right to receive personal medical records

Under HIPAA, patients have the right to see and request a copy of their personal medical records and health information.

Right to change wrong information

If a patient believes the information in their medical files is incorrect, they have the right to request a change or add other information that they believe to be missing.

Know who has seen your files

Patients have the right to know how their health information is being used, who has access to the information, and who has seen their health information.

HIPAA Violation Attorney – What to do if your healthcare rights have been violated

If you think your healthcare rights have been violated, contact a HIPAA Violation Attorney immediately. A HIPAA violation attorney can help you to understand your rights according to HIPAA as well as other state and federal laws in order to determine specifically what laws have been violated and what legal rights you have as an individual. A HIPAA violation lawyer can also guide you in the process of pursuing legal action. Patients do not have the right to sue based on a violation of HIPAA by itself, but can pursue legal action utilizing other state laws. A HIPAA violation lawyer can help the patient to understand how and where to file their HIPAA violation complaints in order to receive the compensation they deserve and to hold the medical professionals accountable for their wrongful actions.

Lamar Law Office, LLC is committed to helping people receive the compensation they deserve after their healthcare rights have been violated. For questions about HIPAA and your rights under HIPAA and state laws, contact our team today.