Saturday, September 1, 2012

What is the Personal Information That HIPAA Protects

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) helps protect then personal information of patients that is confidential from unauthorized people. Privacy of medical records is ensured by HIPAA and it gives the patients complete control over who accesses the information and who doesn’t.

Anyone who wishes to access the information of the patient would require a written permission from the patient or their representative to access the medical records. The written permission would not be necessary only under certain specific circumstances. Health care providers would not require the permission of the patient if the information that is accessed is used for treatment purposes.

A notice of privacy is required to be provided by all nurses, doctors, dentists and other health care providers when the patient visit them for the first time. The patients are requested to sign the notice of privacy stating that they had received a copy of HIPAA rules and regulations. The signature would be requested only for the first visit and subsequent visits do not necessitate a signature.

The information that is sought to be protected by Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act can be in written form or through any other medium. Even oral information that is given to health care providers would need to be protected by HIPAA.

What Are The Various Types Of Patient Information That Is Protected By HIPAA

• Name of the patient and their address is the most basic information that is provided and this needs to be safeguarded.

• Age, phone, fax number and email address is also provided by patients and they would also need to be protected as per the provisions of Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.

• Medical records of past and present along with test results, X rays, scan reports and other relevant reports would also need to be protected. Apart from this prescriptions written by doctors for past illnesses should be safeguarded.

• Billing records and insurance claims made are to be protected by HIPAA.

All this information is confidential and can be accessed only by those who are specifically authorized for this purpose. No other person should be allowed to access it. The personal information of patients can be accessed by health care providers and other agencies on the orders of the court or if they are to be used for identifying missing individuals or suspects. Apart from this the information can be accessed for reporting crime or abuse.

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act has some very stringent provisions as to who can access the patient records and any sort of violation is punishable with fine or imprisonment or both.

Medical records of patients that are pertaining to mental illness are subject to stricter safeguards and if there are any privacy violations they would be severely penalized. HIPAA ensures that all important information pertaining to patients is safeguarded in the best manner possible. This will help prevent the information from been used for fraudulent purposes. Patients can also be assured that their personal medical information is safe under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.