In 2011, the University of California in Los Angeles Health System Facilities (UCLAHS) paid $865,500 in settlement of potential violations of the Privacy and Security Rules of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). Upon investigation, it was found that unauthorized employees obtained the medical records of two celebrity patients who went there for treatment. In addition to the settlement, the UCLAHS vowed to take further steps to prevent similar incidents.
HIPAA privacy laws not only affect medical facilities in Los Angeles, but any business which possesses medical information about their employees as well. Often, personal information is obtained through company-sponsored medical and health insurance, making both the company and its health insurance provider responsible for keeping these records confidential. Any violation of these laws, whether intentional or accidental, could lead to heavy penalties. It is therefore necessary for any business based in Los Angeles to set up safeguards that will ensure compliance with these laws, such as using the right computer firewalls and getting the services of reliable Los Angeles shredding companies.
There are many ways by which a determined white-collar spy can obtain a person's medical data. Crooks, for example, can hack into a company's information system. They may also scavenge for bits and pieces of information from hard copies of employee's records that had been thrown away.
Before paper documents are discarded, therefore, the files have to first be completely destroyed so that they are totally unreadable. Likewise, it is important that document destruction is independently certified and monitored to serve as a safeguard against potential claims of violations. For these reasons, it is best to work with a reliable Los Angeles shredding service provider that has the right equipment and resources to accomplish the job thoroughly and in compliance with HIPAA rules.
One can never be too careful in protecting a patient's or employee's health records. Therefore, one should choose a document shredding company with the right background and track record. A good industry reputation and an impressive range of services are two of the criteria you should consider.
For the latest in the HIPAA, check out hhs.gov/ocr/office/index.html. The site also has an online version of the HIPAA Privacy Rule. Updates on other civil and privacy right issues are also found here.
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