Organizations operating in the healthcare industry bear the responsibility of providing proper training to their employees regarding HIPAA rules and regulations. Such employee training is crucial as it ensures that those handling protected health information (PHI) comprehend the expectations set forth by HIPAA, as well as the potential consequences they may encounter for non-compliance. Therefore, below we will delve into the penalties involved in cases of HIPAA rule violations, highlighting the significant HIPAA violation consequences.

Repercussions of Violating HIPAA Rules

Depending on the nature of the HIPAA violation, penalties for the violation vary for employees. Disciplinary actions may be determined by an employer, federal regulators, professional boards, and the Department of Justice. 

Imposed penalties for breaking HIPAA rules are determined by the following:

  • The nature of the violation
  • Whether or not the employee was aware that HIPAA rules were being violated
  • Whether or not the employee took action to correct the violation
  • Whether or not there was malicious intent, or the violation contributed to personal gain
  • The nature of harm caused by the violation
  • How many people were impacted by the violation
  • Whether or not the incident violated the criminal provision of HIPAA

Employees that break HIPAA rules can face the following HIPAA violation penalties:

  • Employers can deal with the violation internally
  • The employee could face termination
  • Professional boards could issue employee sanctions
  • Criminal charges could be imposed, including fines and imprisonment

Criminal Repercussions for Breaking HIPAA Rules

There are different HIPAA violation consequences. Employees that intentionally break HIPAA rules can be fined $50,000 – $250,000, and that doesn’t include potential restitution to victims. Employees may also be subject to jail time; employees that commit aggravated identity theft are subject to a mandatory two-year imprisonment.

Other criminal violation penalties are categorized into three tiers:

  • Negligence: up to 1 year jail time
  • Falsely obtaining protected health information: up to 5 years jail time
  • Malicious intent or personal gain: up to 10 years jail time

Civil Repercussions for Breaking HIPAA Rules

Civil penalties apply when an employee was aware that they violated HIPAA, or they would have been aware had they exercised due diligence. Fines for civil penalties can be anywhere from $100 – $25,000, depending on whether or not there were multiple violations. If the employee corrected the HIPAA violation within 30 days of discovery, and did not commit willful neglect, the employee is not subject to civil penalties or facing HIPAA violation consequences.

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