I am a solo practitioner in private practice as a psychotherapist. Work was slow so I agreed to subcontract for a local mental health provider who is funded by Medicaid. I was just informed by a representative of this agency that a client filed a complaint against me under HIPAA. The client alleges that I left files with other patients names laying out that could be seen. I have recollections of an incident where I was working on some files when a client entered my office but promptly pick them up and put them away concealing them behind my chair to work on later. I did not think anything of it at the time but subsequently remember getting up to make the client a copy of a document from s/he’s file and observed the client getting up out of their seat and looking over into the area where I had concealed the files I had been working on. It's possible that there was an incidental observance of someone's name when the files were sitting in front of my chair but highly unlikely they could have been read. If the client was deliberately attempting to look at the pile of files I had concealed only one name would've been visible. But that would've been deliberate by the complaining client seeking to see information not pertaining to them. . Need I be concerned about this complaint and ongoing investigation by the agency I subcontract with?
Country relating to Question: United States
State (if USA): Oregon
Just reading on the internet
Hi and thank you for using JustAnswer!I am sorry to learn of your experience. Please clarify: what's the next step in the investigation process?
They have asked for three things: 1. List of all possible names of clients who could have been observed.2. Attend Hippa training they will provide3. A policy and procedure for my office for protecting Hipaa information..I am concerned about collateral damage, what if I list a name that was not compromised? I suspect the agency intends to send out sometype of notice to cover themselves. Civil suite possibly?
Under HIPAA, a person can only file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for them to investigate. A person cannot file a civil suit for violation of HIPAA.Some folks do try to sue under a state claim of invasion of privacy if there is a HIPAA-related violated.Have you notified your malpractice carrier?
Yes I have placed a call to malpractice insurance company and was told to expect a 3 day response, call back. So if this is the senario what do I do? They are telling to report all Hipaa violations! I didn't think I had violated Hipaa. I want to be responsible and cooperative but not foolish. I have no reason to believe they have my best interst in mind, protecting the agency is their mission. So to what extent need I be concerned?
There is zero harm to you with respect to:2. Attend Hippa training they will provide3. A policy and procedure for my office for protecting Hipaa information..As for the first requirement, if you know of such names, share them. If you are not aware of any such names, then that is your response. Let it be the burden of the complainant to identify the names. If the complainant can't identify names, then I guess there was no improper disclosure of patient information (and thus no HIPAA violation).It has been my pleasure to assist you today with your information needs. It is my goal that you are satisfied. No expert can promise you an answer that is favorable to your circumstances. But I will do my very best to explain the legal principles that are related to the facts you’ve described so that you can better understand the “why” of things. Please let me know if there is anything else I can provide to give you excellent service!"
Explains legal matters based on 14+ years experience.
Thank you, I try. Best wishes.
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