In a rural area, former employees can still often be connected to your practice. Your current employees are then faced with the dilemma of what to do when a former employee wants, needs or asks for something. Often, employees think it is acceptable to give information to the former employee when in fact it is not OK at all.
Due to the connections your former employees have with your practice, your current employees can get caught in the middle of Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) violations. Share these situational examples with your employees to help them avoid the gray area:
A former employee is a current patient.
Many times, former employees believe they should be able to text your current employees for test results or changes needed to medication. Current employees should not engage with former employees though text and/or pictures of results. If this should happen, employees should notify a HIPAA officer.
A former employee has a family member that is a current patient.
Your employees must check for signed authorizations to discuss ANY protected health information (PHI).
A former employee tags a current employee in a Facebook post asking how a patient is doing.
Do not answer and delete the post if you are able. Notify your HIPAA officer.
A former employee and a current employee are friends.
The former employee asks the current employee how a patient is doing. The current employee does not need to discuss ANY of the patient’s information with the former employee. Once again, notify your HIPAA officer.
Employees need to know that when an employee has left your practice, they are no longer a part of your clinic. Therefore, they are not privileged to any PHI. If or when they need PHI on themselves, they should be treated as a normal patient.
Many times, HIPAA breaches happen in a practice with former employees because of lack of education. Practices think this should be common HIPAA knowledge, so these are few examples of why you should educate all of your current and future employees.
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