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ADVANCE Voice: NP

Very Few HIPAA Prosecutions

Published May 21, 2008 9:44 AM by Jill Rollet
I saw a news blurb the other day about a HIPAA prosecution in Oklahoma. I was struck by how few of these blurbs come across my desk, so I tried to track down just how many HIPAA prosecutions there have been since the law was enacted in 1996. An unscientific and cursory search turned up six criminal prosecutions, including the most recent notice, one civil prosecution (no fine levied) and a bunch of comments about the small number of prosecutions.

Compared with the aggravations patients have endured from health care providers citing HIPAA as the reason they don't use electronic medical records, can't discuss a condition over the phone or e-mail, can't send health records to another provider, won't hand the prescription to a spouse, or whatever (OK, I'm the patient here), fear of overzealous HIPAA police is a joke.

 I'm sure the extreme caution stems from misunderstanding of the law and not any malicious attempt to frustrate patients. Actually, it sounds like an excuse for poor customer service.

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