Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996

The HIPAA Privacy Rule was effective in April 2003. This act serves to regulate the use and disclosure of Protected Health Information (PHI).

What is PHI and how is it used?

  • PHI is any information that can be used separately or in conjunction with other information to identify and individual
  • PHI may include but is not limited to:
    • Name
    • date of birth
    • social security number
    • medical records number
    • admission and discharge dates
    • health plan beneficiary numbers
    • full facial photography or comparable images
    • any combination of information which may be used together to identify a patient
  • PHI is used to identify patients in the healthcare setting and should only be accessed for the care, treatment, and billing of patient care. Healthcare workers, including students, should access no more information than they "need to know" in order to provide safe and competent care to assigned patients.
  • Unattended PHI is a possible breach and must be reported

My responsibility
ALL students are expected and required to safeguard ALL patient information in ALL settings, whether you are at the college, in clinical experiences, or home. And, simply leaving out the patient name does not guarantee that person's privacy.

What are the consequences of violating HIPAA?

  • Negative evaluation in the clinical component of a course
  • Dismissal from the clinical program
  • Dismissal from Cabarrus College of Health Sciences
  • Fines up to $50,000
  • Up to one-year imprisonment

What about Social Media?

  • Social media helps us stay connected to others and we often use social media to talk about our day's experiences.
  • Technology can be a benefit or a risk depending on how we use it
  • Information about patient care situations should not be discussed online. Just because you do not list a patient name, address, phone #, DOB, etc., on a social network is no guarantee the individual cannot be identified by the information provided
  • Best practice = let social media be about your social life
  • Refer to the Social Media section of the Student Handbook for guidance.

HIPAA video