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handshakeThe doctor-patient privilege is almost sacred. What your patients tell you, they expect you to confidentially respect. Medical information is personal. If you expose that information, you might open yourself up to legal action. Doctors face malpractice and invasion of privacy claims all the time. In many cases, these allegations can ruin a practice. If you’re the care provider, what can you do to avoid patient privacy breaches?

Depending on the nature of a privacy breach, professional liability insurance might help you reach settlements with the affected parties. Still, you have an obligation to do everything you can to avoid these problems altogether.

Preventing Breaches of Privacy
With HIPAA and other health care rules, patients have a legal guarantee that their medical information will remain confidential. If you expose a patient’s private information, it might become a violation of these rules. That could lead to consequences.

So, how can you avoid these problems in your practice. There are ways to do so, and they often aren’t hard.

  • Provide your patient with written information about their right to privacy. Explain to them when and where you have a legal right to share their information. Make sure they know they know how they can pursue claims of invasion of privacy, if they so choose.
  • Before providing care, ensure you receive their explicit written or oral consent.
  • When taking notes or making a patient history, use only secure recording methods. Keep all company files under lock and key. Use high levels of data protection for files kept on computer networks.
  • Make sure all your employees receive training on respecting patient privacy. Any individuals who break this code should receive disciplinary action.

As a bottom line, keep your patient data to yourself. Only share it with those who need to know. Only discuss in situations where it’s relevant to the patient’s course of treatment.

Insurance for Breach of Privacy
Willfully exposing a patient’s private information is not grounds for coverage under your malpractice insurance, or any other policies. However, your package of professional liability coverage might cover certain loss situations. For example, if you have cyber liability coverage, it might will pay for breaches of privacy resulting from virus attacks or data losses. Your malpractice coverage might apply in other situations where you expose patient information. Talk to your insurance agent about your specific policy.

Don’t let your practice go without the right professional liability coverage. However, make it your priority to avoid breaches of privacy in the first place.

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