I was somewhat surprised to learn from reading recently that even some very small things can result in a violation of the HIPAA rules (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act rules).
Of course we all know that the HIPAA rules are " ... established national standards to protect individuals' medical records and other personal health information and applies to health plans, health care clearinghouses, and those health care providers that conduct certain health care transactions electronically." (From the HHS website)
But as with all rules, they can be broken, and there are consequences that come from doing so when that happens.
Here are some examples of real-life violations, minor as they may seem, of the HIPAA rules. (And see link below).
They're rather interesting to read, because, as noted, many of them seem so small and subtle, almost petty some might say, and not the sorts of things that might immediately come to mind when thinking about
serious rules violations.
For example:"An emergency room employee who snaps a photo and posts it to social media to show how busy it is would represent a HIPAA violation, as people in the photo may be recognizable."
and"Leaving PHI (protected health information) visible on a computer screen while others can see it is a HIPAA violation. This is true in-person, as well as during video conferencing meetings or other sessions."
And note:"Releasing the wrong patient's information is a common unintentional HIPAA violation. This could occur through a careless mistake in a situation where two patients have the same or similar names. This is one reason why medical offices often verify additional information beyond a person's name, such as date of birth or address."
(So THAT'S why the nurse always asks for my date of birth when I'm in for an appointment!)
Some of the other violations listed in this link may also seem equally small and subtle, and some might even consider them "nit-picking." But they are the rules: https://examples.yourdictionary.com/examples-of-hipaa-violations.html
In a way, though, it's reassuring to see that the protections in place for our privacy are indeed so specific and taken so very seriously.