As a medical professional, you face life and death situations on an almost daily basis. While you always want to do your best to provide the needed care for your patients, you must also adhere to red tape that could prevent your patients from receiving needed treatment until you obtain specific permissions. If you attempt to circumvent that red tape, you could end up facing legal consequences.
In particular, you must adhere to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. Of course, HIPAA violations occur in the medical world, and you could end up under investigation by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services if a complaint against you regarding such a violation has occurred.
According to the American Medical Association, different tiers of HIPAA violations exist, with some being civil and others criminal in nature. In cases of suspected civil violations, you could face an accusation of any of the following tiers:
- A violation that occurred unknowingly
- A violation with reasonable cause
- A violation of willful neglect that you correct within a specified time frame
- A violation of willful neglect that you do not correct within the specified time frame
Each of these tiers could come with increasingly severe consequences, including tens of thousands of dollars in fines.
If you stand accused of criminal HIPAA violations, monetary fines as well as jail time could be on the table in terms of consequences after a conviction. One of the following levels of criminal offenses could apply:
- Knowingly obtaining or disclosing protected information
- HIPAA violations committed through deceit
- Offenses relating to the intentional selling, transferring or using protected information for harm, commercial advantage or personal gain
If you are charged with a criminal offense, you will need to work with a criminal defense attorney to protect your interests.
Regulatory action by licensing boards
Whether you took purposeful action or made a mistake, your professional future may also be on the line. Minor HIPPA violations are sometimes handled internally, and employers may provide additional training to prevent future missteps. More serious violations will likely result in disciplinary action. Medical providers who commit HIPPA violations may face board hearings resulting in punishment or termination. Not only could you lose your job or your license, a HIPPA violation may make future employment a challenge.
Protecting your interests
You entered the medical profession to help people, and facing accusations of wrongdoing could weigh heavily on you. Fortunately, you have the right to defend against any complaints that could put your professional and personal well-being at risk. Utilizing the experience of The Weir Law Firm, LLC, could help you understand your legal rights and options in defending against allegations relating to your health care career.
Source: American Medical Association, “HIPAA violations & enforcement.”