can I get fired for an accidental HIPAA violation

Can I Get Fired for an Accidental HIPAA Violation?

In the world of healthcare, maintaining patient confidentiality is important. HIPAA was established to protect patients’ sensitive health information.

However, even with severe regulations, accidental HIPAA violations can occur.

These violations may result from accidental sharing or mishandling of patient records. The consequences of such breaches can be severe.

Many individuals may find themselves wondering, Can I get fired for an accidental HIPAA violation?

Let’s look into this critical aspect of HIPAA Violation.

What Is a HIPAA Violation?

HIPAA violations happen when a healthcare organization breaks the rules set up in a law called HIPAA, made in 1996.

These violations often involve accessing or sharing patients’ private health information without permission.

But they can also happen if staff aren’t trained properly or if access to records isn’t monitored well.

HIPAA laws are meant to keep patient information safe in the digital age.

They set rules for how healthcare data should be handled, focusing on three main things:

  • The Privacy Rule
  • The Security Rule
  • The Breach Notification Rule

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) is in charge of making sure organizations follow HIPAA.

Different Levels of Fault for a HIPAA Violation

There are four levels of fault for a HIPAA violation:

  1. Willful Neglect: Intentional disregard for HIPAA rules and regulations.
  2. Reasonable Cause: The violation happened due to things beyond control but could have been avoided with more care.
  3. Unknowing:Violation occurred without knowing or being aware of HIPAA requirements.
  4. Corrected:Violation happened, but steps were taken to fix it and reduce its impact.

Each level results in different penalties, including fines or even criminal charges, based on how severe the violation is.

Implications of Non-Compliance with HIPAA

Non-compliance with HIPAA rules can cause big problems for healthcare providers and organizations. It includes:

  • Damage to Reputation

HIPAA breaches can damage the reputation of healthcare providers and destroy patient trust.

  • Financial Loss 

Fines, legal expenses, and settlements due to HIPAA breaches can lead to substantial financial burdens.

  • Loss of Opportunities

Healthcare groups may lose patients or partnerships due to concerns about data security and privacy.

  • Legal Complication

Breaking the rules could get you sued, fined, or even sent to jail, depending on how bad it is.

Can I Get Fired for an Accidental HIPAA Violation?

It is accurate to say that you can potentially be fired for an accidental HIPAA violation. HIPAA violations are serious in healthcare settings because of sensitive patient information.

Even unintended breaches can result in disciplinary action, including termination of employment.

While HIPAA itself does not mandate termination as a consequence of violations, individual organizations may have their own policies regarding such incidents.

Therefore, the severity of the consequences can vary depending on the employer.

So, the answer to the question “Can you get fired for accidentally sending confidential information?” is “Yes”.

How Long Does a HIPAA Violation Stay on Your Record?

If you break HIPAA rules once, it may stay on your record. It helps your employer decide what to do if you break the rules again.

How long it stays on record depends on how bad the violation was. Your past mistakes could be kept in files or databases.

Breaking the rules many times or getting into legal trouble can cause problems for a long time. Following HIPAA rules is important to keep your record clean.

How Long Does a HIPAA Violation Investigation Take?

How long a HIPAA violation investigation takes depends on a few things.

It could be how complicated the situation is, how much was breached, and how helpful everyone involved is.

Investigators have to gather proof, talk to people who saw what happened, and check if the rules were followed.

Some investigations may finish in a few weeks, but others could go on for months or even longer, depending on what happened.

How Long Does Gross Misconduct Stay on Your Record?

Gross misconduct can stay on your record for a long time, possibly even permanently.

It depends on the rules of the company you worked for and the laws in your area.

If you were fired for something serious like gross misconduct, it could affect your future job opportunities.

Potential employers might check your work history and see what happened.

So, it’s important to be aware of how your actions can impact your record in the long run.

How to Avoid HIPAA Violations?

So, what can you do to avoid accidental HIPAA violations and protect yourself from disciplinary action?

  • Stay updated on HIPAA rules through employer training. Knowing how to handle PHI correctly can help prevent accidental breaches.
  • Before you share anything with patient details, check it twice. Make sure only the right people can see that information.
  • If you accidentally break HIPAA rules, inform your compliance officer immediately. Acting may make things better.
  • Take the time to understand your organization’s policies and procedures regarding HIPAA. It’s important to do things correctly to keep patient information safe.

Related: what to do if accused of a HIPAA violation

Legal Aspects of HIPAA Violations

Can You Sue a Company for HIPAA Violation?

Yes, individuals affected by a HIPAA violation have the right to file a complaint with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR).

People impacted by the violation might be able to sue the organization at fault in court. They can seek damages for any harm caused as a result.

Let’s Wrap up: Can I Get Fired for an Accidental HIPAA Violation?

Everyone in healthcare needs to know and follow HIPAA rules. If you accidentally break them, you could lose your job.

Patient privacy is a big deal, so even small mistakes with their information can cause big problems.

Make sure you understand the rules, stay updated, and report any mistakes right away to avoid getting into trouble.

At American Healthcare Compliance, we recognize the critical importance of HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) in ensuring the security of sensitive health information.

Are you interested in learning more? American Healthcare Compliance offers HIPAA compliance courses. For further information, please contact us.


What are examples of accidental HIPAA violations?

Accidental HIPAA violations may involve the unintentional disclosure of PHI through email. Another common scenario is improper disposal of patient records.

 Is it possible to be rehired after a HIPAA violation?

Yes, it’s possible to be rehired after a HIPAA violation. However, it depends on the severity of the violation and company policies.

 Will a HIPAA violation show up on a background check?

HIPAA violations generally don’t appear on standard background checks. However, they may affect job prospects if disclosed during the hiring process.

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