HIPAA is often used as a means to avoid disclosing information that is not protected by the law. When a healthcare worker who does not understand the actual implications of the law wants to avoid answering questions, they simply cite HIPAA as their shield. Instead of providing the means to protect patient information from unauthorized use or disclosure, HIPAA has morphed into a monster of a regulation that people are either using too broadly and beyond its real purpose, or are so afraid of violatiing the law that they do not ask questions that they are entitled to ask. Members of the healthcare industry scare people into thinking that any use of patient information is illegal, rather just unauthorized use of protected patient information - which is all HIPAA actually mandates. The healthcare industry sometimes scares healthcare workers into believeing they have violated HIPAA when in fact they have not, either in an attempt to assert authority or to fire an employee and prevent them from receiving unemployment benefits. Healthcare workers are allowed to share information with a patient's family, friends, and caregivers unless the patient specifically objects. Even still, a healthcare worker can exercise professional judgment in sharing information that would be in the best interests of the patient. In addition, family members can provide information to careworkers that would help a patient. Still some workers refuse to take such information, citing HIPAA once again. The Department of Health and Human Services takes complaints from patients who think their rights were violated, but really only try to resolve problems, not issue penalties like so many health care staff members fear.
If you have been fired from a position in the healthcare industry and were accused of violating HIPAA with no basis for the allegation, call us today so we can help you successfully argue in your favor to receive unemployment insurance benefits.