Essay on Hippa: Anxiety and Hipaa Privacy Rules

Submitted By Shevy18
Words: 425
Pages: 2

Ever since HIPAA Privacy Rules became finalized law in 2003, many healthcare practices have been anxious and fearful of penalties should they interpret the law incorrectly and be out of compliance. Non-compliance fines can be hefty, so it is understandable why many providers practice with apprehension.

HIPAA rules have brought a needed awareness for patient privacy, but at the same time much of the law is hazy with areas often needing legal interpretation. According to Ronald B. Sterling, MBA, a health technology consultant, “A lot of people overthink HIPAA and take it to extremes.” (1) When the law is unclear and healthcare professionals are worried about self-protection, staff members tend to go overboard when interpreting the rules. And the office philosophy becomes if we want to be safe and stay compliant, we can’t tell anyone anything! Hospitals also have this mindset created by overzealous risk managers and lawyers. The doctors with privileges at these institutions take this viewpoint back to their practice as the safe hospital-endorsed thing to do.

Interpretation errors, even when on side of caution, aren’t necessarily good for the patients and can actually infringe upon their rights. And, the “don’t tell anyone anything” concept is keeping information from people who need and deserve to be informed.

Medcape reported that at a congressional subcommittee hearing on HIPAA last April, Carol Levine from the United Hospital Fund testified that when she took her sister to the emergency room with severe abdominal pain, even though her sister asked her to stay with her in the room, a triage nurse said, “You can’t come with her. It’s a HIPAA rule.” When her sister replied, “But I want her with me,” the nurse responded, “no way.” (1) Congressman Tim…