HIPAA Law, Attorney Explains

Understanding the HIPAA law

HIPAA is an abbreviation of “Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.” It was established in 1996 to improve efficiencies in the US health care system.

The HIPAA law attempts to ensure strict confidentially and privacy of your medical information.

Though Florida law allows you to access your medical records, under HIPAA, there are certain restrictions as to how you can access these records and who can access the records on your behalf.

Importance of Medical Records

It is important to know the value of your medical records. These records will be extremely useful for your lawyer, policy provider and your doctor. Most importantly, your doctors will need your past medical history and past medical records in order to most effectively treat you.

But your medical records are confidential and cannot be accessed by anyone else unless they have your specific written permission. And this is core aspect of the HIPAA law. It is also referred to as the HIPAA privacy rule

HIPAA Privacy Rule

Under the HIPAA privacy rule, anyone such as your hospital/health care provider who has access to your medical records CANNOT share it with any third party person except with your mentioned surrogate.

They can only share it with other people if it is a case of an emergency or it is an absolute necessity to share the details. Otherwise, they cannot be shared without your written consent. This makes sure that your medical records will never be shared for illegal practices and if they are, then the person disclosing them may be civilly punished.

Exceptions to HIPAA

The HIPPA Law has two parts. Part1 deals with insurance portability, which means that insurance coverage for employees will continue even when they changes jobs. Part2 focuses more on standardizing health care information, particularly e-exchange of such information and also looks minimizing health care fraud and abuse.

HIPAA Lawyer, attorney

As afore-stated, the medical practitioner, lawyer as well as the policy providers are allowed to share the details in case of absolute emergencies or when it is a necessity or as required by law in cases of litigation or discovery process.

How does one define those emergencies and necessities?

Here is a list of emergencies and necessities defined by the State of Florida. In case of these emergencies, one is compelled to share the available medical information. The emergencies and necessities are as follows:

  • Life threatening situations
  • Child abuse
  • Court orders
  • Gun shots
  • Sexual abuse
  • Death
  • Surveillance
  • Compensation

If the medical records are disclosed for a reason which is different from the reasons mentioned above then the offending party may be charged a fine of $100, and upwards of $1,500.00 per violation. If the release of the records is intentional, the perpetrator could face criminal charges and face prison time.

The Other Side of HIPAA

The HIPAA law is quite complex and several doctors and health care providers are not exactly sure how this affects them. As a result, they may refrain from sharing critical medical information with your family or even with you in certain situations.  The fact is, with your written permission, information can be shared with anyone you want. If you believe that it is necessary for others to have access to your medical information, you should inform your health care provider.

HIPAA is intended to be for the benefit of the patient. It often plays a legal role in the personal injury context as medical records and its disclosures play a fundamental role.

You should make sure that you know exactly how to use it for maximum benefits. If you feel you have been victimized in violation of HIPPA, or wish to understand your rights under the law, you should consult with an experienced attorney. If you are in Florida, the law firm of Arcadier, Biggie, and Wood, PLLC, P.A. can help.