What Professional Medical Assistants Need to Know About HIPAA | Career Training | The Salter School
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What Professional Medical Assistants Need to Know About HIPAA

Category(ies): Professional Medical Assistant


You’ve worked hard to get through your medical assistant training program and land a job. But not long after you start your new position, your employer gets hit with a fine for a HIPAA violation – and people are saying it’s your fault.

Sound like a nightmare? You bet it does.

HIPAA, or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, is a law that governs how patient information is handled. A key part of HIPAA involves maintaining the confidentiality and security of protected health information. Healthcare providers and their employees must ensure that patient information is protected when being used, transferred, or shared electronically, verbally, or on paper.

Practices that breach patient confidentiality may face steep fines – and it also stands to reason that employees who are responsible for infractions may find themselves looking for new jobs.

There’s a lot on the line, for both you and your future employer. With that mind, here are 10 things you can do to avoid unintentional HIPAA violations on the job or during your externship.

  1. When working at the reception desk, remember that any discussions you have with a patient may be overheard by others in the office or people in the waiting area. Be aware of your volume and choose your words carefully.
  2. Whenever possible, try to use patients’ first names only.
  3. Keep your eyes to yourself; that is, don’t look at information on other people’s computer screens.
  4. Make sure you don’t leave patient records sitting out. File them or place them in the proper bin immediately after use.
  5. If you’re accessing electronic healthcare records, be sure to do so under your login only. Don’t leave patient information up on the screen if you need to walk away from the desk.
  6. Do not discuss patients’ medical conditions with them or anyone else until you’re behind closed doors.
  7. If you must carry a file to an exam room, do so in a way that the patient name isn’t visible.
  8. If you have to destroy patient information, be sure to follow HIPAA guidelines for shredding or other appropriate disposal methods.
  9. Do not remove patient information from the workplace unless specifically directed to do so as part of a job procedure.
  10. Avoid talking about patients or specific medical cases to friends and family.

Remember, maintaining patient confidentiality doesn’t have to be hard if you get in the practice of maintain appropriate work habits.

Interested in learning more about a career as professional medical assistant? Request more information or schedule a tour

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