If you are part of the healthcare industry, you undoubtedly know about the importance of maintaining your patient’s privacy. The HIPPA Privacy Rule is very prudent about regulating both the use and disclosure of a patient’s health information. In fact, employers in other industries who offer their employees’ healthcare plans as a part of the benefits package will also need to comply with the HIPPA Privacy Rule in order to avoid penalties. In either case, you will need to establish routine procedures to protect your patients’ and employees’ healthcare privacy. Among the best ways to do this? Secure shredding performed by a reputable service on a routine basis.
While paper shredding services can be scheduled according to your firm’s need (daily, weekly, bi-weekly, monthly or on-demand), it is best to plan secure shredding as a part of your office routine, so that you regularly manage this ever-important task. Powerful hammermill shredders assure that the documents are destroyed beyond recognition, keeping your company compliant with federal regulations.
Ever wonder what happens to firms who fail to comply with those federal privacy regulations? Well, violators can be assessed with very hefty fines; while minimal penalties start at just $1,000 per violation, the numbers can add up easily and quickly. The $1,000 fine is assessed when investigators determine reasonable cause, but the penalties jump to the tune of $10,000 per violation for incidents determined to be resulting from “willful neglect”. While the cap on reasonable cause violations is at $100,000 per calendar year, willful neglect penalties cap at $250,000 per calendar year. Knowingly disclosing information about a patient’s health record can cost your firm $50,000 per incident along with the possibility of a one-year jail term. Tougher violations exist for more egregious violations, going from $100,000 to $250,000 per incident and up to 10 years in jail.
Don’t believe the penalties will be enforced? Just as Cignet Health of Maryland. In February 2011, Cignet was assessed a whopping $4.3 Million penalty for their HIPPA Privacy violations. Just days later, Mass General (of Massachusetts) was assessed a $1 Million fine following an incident where an employee left health records of 192 employees on a subway. Penalties like those can quickly force major cutbacks, layoffs or closure, along with destroying confidence of your patients.
When it comes to shredding documents, truly an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.