HIPAA Violations Could Cost Your Practice More Than You Think- Guest Post

  

Health Insurance Portability and accountability act HIPAA and stethoscope.

In this article, we will focus on the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996. We will look at what HIPAA is, what constitutes a HIPAA violation, and how much a HIPAA violation can cost your business. 

Defining HIPAA Compliance

The HIPAA law was passed by Congress in 1996. The federal law protects patient’s privacy rights in the United States. In accordance with the law, organizations are required to abide by a set of standards to protect against unauthorized use and disclosure of Protected Health Information (PHI). 

In addition to protecting privacy rights, the federal law also facilitated and strengthened the flow of PHI with the aim of reducing healthcare fraud and abuse. 

Any individual or organization that comes into contact with PHI must implement appropriate policies and procedures to safeguard patients’ data to ensure compliance with HIPAA law. That means if you:

  • Speak to patients directly
  • Check blood pressures
  • Write or give out prescriptions
  • Oversee the firewall in a healthcare setting
  • Encrypt medical data on behalf of a covered entity
  • Manage a database that stores, maintains, or creates patient data

You are responsible for HIPAA compliance and HIPAA violations. Individual employees may face charges if PHI gets jeopardized, but that doesn’t mean the entity is exempt from following the HIPAA rules.

HIPAA Violation

Any healthcare practice that compromises Protected Health Information (PHI) is considered to be at fault. However, individual employees may also be considered at fault depending on their actions and face serious consequences. 

According to the HHS, “Individuals, organizations, and agencies that meet the definition of a covered entity under HIPAA must comply with the Rules’ requirements to protect the privacy and security of health information and must provide individuals with certain rights with respect to their health information.”

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) does not accept ignorance on the part of an employer or employee as an excuse. That is why HIPAA training is so crucial to protect patient data and avoid HIPAA violations. 

HIPAA Violation Penalties

HIPAA violations can be of two types – civil and criminal. The penalties enforced will depend on the severity of the violations, and whether it was deliberate or unintentional will be taken into consideration. 

Civil Penalties

The civil penalties can be divided into four tiers. Here’s what they look like:

Tier 1: A category of violation that was unintentional, and the entity was unaware that a violation could occur given that they had taken all the necessary steps. Penalties for this tier range from $100 per violation to up to $50,000, and a maximum of $25,000 per year. 

Tier 2: A category of violation where the organization could not have prevented the violation but was or should have been aware of the potential risks, not willfully neglecting all the necessary steps. Fines for this tier range from a minimum of $1000 up to $50,000 per infringement, and a maximum of $100,000 per year. 

Tier 3: A category of violations where the entity willfully neglected all the HIPAA requirements, and as a result, a violation occurred. Although, the entity made efforts to rectify the violation in some cases. Fines for this tier range from $10,000 up to $50,000 per violation, and a maximum of $250,000 per year. 

Tier 4: A category of violations where the organization was fully aware of the potential risks, willfully neglecting all the HIPAA requirements, and did not attempt to rectify the violation. Fines for this tier range from a minimum of $50,000 per violation to a maximum of $1.5 million per year for repeated violations. 

Criminal Penalties

Violations that are considered to be criminal in nature are handed over to the Department of Justice. From there, individuals at the practice involved in the violation could be held criminally liable. These types of violations could stem from the theft of PHI for financial gain or wrongful disclosures with malicious intent. 

Criminal violations can be divided into three tiers, with the term and an accompanying fine decided by a judge based on the facts of each separate case. Here’s what they look like:

Tier 1: Up to 1 year in jail for reasonable cause or no knowledge of the violation

Tier 2: Up to 5 years in jail for obtaining PHI under false pretenses

Tier 3: Up to 10 years in jail for obtaining PHI with malicious intent or for personal gain

To conclude

In addition to civil or criminal penalties, there are also Corrective Action Plans (CAP) to worry about. Not to mention, you might also risk losing the license to practice. These CAPs are enforced by the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) when a data breach occurs. These plans are often cumbersome and costly. 

Nevertheless, it just goes to show that HIPAA violations could cost you more than you think. Hence the best way to go about this is to ensure that you are as compliant with the HIPAA law as possible by implementing all the necessary policies, procedures, and controls in place. 

Understanding HIPAA is essential for you, your employees, and your practice as a whole. Make sure to deliver proper and timely HIPAA training to your workforce members and make a lifestyle out of HIPAA compliance. 

 

Author Bio: Riyan N. Alam is a digital marketing analyst at CloudApper, a supplier of mobile ERP solutions, including HIPAA compliance software, facility management software, and many more. Combining his passion for reading books, he writes about subjects valuable to people and their daily lives. Riyan loves traveling and trading in his free time. 

 

Important steps to take before you register a trademark- Guest post

  

Many business owners launch their brand or product without considering the trademark registration process. You can save yourself a lot of time and effort (and money) by taking these simple steps before you hit the market. They will help you avoid potential issues that could delay your trademark registration process.

Registration search before registering a trademark

The first and most important step is to do a trademark registration search.

You will discover registered marks within Australia by doing a simple trademark search before your lodge an application to register a trademark. It will reveal if your mark is similar or identical to another company’s mark. If so, this could be a factor that leads to your application being denied. You’d need to make changes to your mark before you apply again to avoid infringing on the rights of an existing trademark holder. You’ll also be able to determine if your mark or logo is eligible for trademark protection.

It’s advisable to work with a trademark professional if you are doing an in-depth search. They will advise you of how to proceed, and many offer a service where they do a preliminary and comprehensive trademark search at a fixed cost rate.

If you want to get started, here are some free resources offered by IP Australia you can look into:

  • Australian trademarks Online Search System

ATMOSS gives the most important information about similar or identical trademarks to your own. It includes all of the currently registered trademarks and all pending applications and records of their progress.

  • Classification Search

You can use the classifications search to help you determine which class or classes you should file your goods or services under.

  • trademark Check

This will help reveal if your business name infringes on a registered mark that is identical to similar to your proposed mark. If the mark is confusingly similar to yours, yours will not be registered.

  • trademarks Image Viewer

You can use this tool to view trademarks that include images or typescripts.

  • Business Names Applicant Search.

You can use this tool to get details on business name availability. Use it before you attempt to register your business name with ASIC.

Determining what can be trademarked

Another area to explore before applying for a trademark is to look into what you can and can’t register. The trademarks Act 1995 defines a trademark as a ‘sign’ used to distinguish goods or services from those used by other similar traders. It’s pretty broad as it covers a range of ‘signs’ used alone or in combination. Ask yourself if any of the following are relevant to your service or product to determine if they might be available or not.

  • Is there a brand, heading, letter, word, or name used to distinguish my goods or services from others?
  • Is there a signature or numeral that is used that distinguishes my goods or services from others?
  • Is there a label, ticket, or form of packaging that is used that distinguishes my goods or services from others?
  • Is there a shape, colour, scent, or sound used to distinguish my goods or services from others?

Note that any mark that is considered to be too descriptive will receive an adverse report. Some marks that may be a little descriptive might still get approval based on evidence of use but some are simply too descriptive to ever be registered. For example, if you tried to register the word ‘smartphone concerning a ‘smartphone’, it wouldn’t be registered. Likewise, any mark that is against the law or is considered ‘scandalous’ will be rejected.

What happens if someone has a similar business name registered to my proposed trademark?

If your search reveals an individual has registered a business name that is similar to yours, there’s no need to panic. When you file your trademark application, IP Australia conducts a database search of pending and registered trademarks. If this rival company has not applied for or registered a trademark for their business name, IP Australia will not prevent you from registering that trademark.

The only risk with this is that once the trademark has been accepted for registration, you may find an opposition being filed against it by the other business. Any third party has a two-month time frame in which they can lodge an opposition to a trademark. If they feel they have a reason to lodge an opposition to your application in this window, they have the right to do so. Or, if the competitor has a strong reputation in the name, before you, they may have common law rights to act on even if you register the trademark first.

A trademark attorney is the best port of call if you find yourself facing opposition. Even better, they will warn you if you are at risk of this happening if you discover someone has a similar business name registered as a trademark and how you can defend your position.

nd your position. 

Can I Sue Someone for a Car Accident If There’s No Police Report? Guest Post

  

When pursuing compensation after a car accident in Texas, the police report forms an essential part of the necessary evidence. It offers the written account of the police’s assessment of the accident scene, eye witness reports, damages to the vehicle, and the victims’ injuries.

While the police report can help expedite your claim, it does not determine fault at trial. In simple terms, its absence cannot bar you from filing a lawsuit against the other party if injuries become evident after several hours or days.

What if the police didn’t show up?

The police may not always show up after an auto collision. In such a case, you have a legal obligation to report the crash within ten days to law enforcement.

However, that may not be necessary if there are no apparent injuries, death, or the property damage is insignificant. You and the other party may agree to walk away without calling the police or filing a report. If that happens, bear in mind that your chances of winning may be limited in case injuries become evident after some time or the other party decides to turn against you and sue you.

That’s where skilled Corpus Christi car accident attorneys come in. The right team of lawyers will ensure you are on the safe side if the other party decides to sue. Better still, your attorney can help you recover the compensation you deserve if you get injured in an accident and do not have the police report.

What should I do after a car accident if there’s no police report?

 

Get the other driver’s personal information.

When the police fail to show up and the other driver(s) involved are at the scene, taking their information can be critical. These should include:

  • Their full legal names, address, and the license plate number
  • Make and model of the vehicle(s)
  • Insurance information
  • Date and the location of the accident

Take pictures and video footage of the accident scene. 

As soon as you establish that it is safe, it’s important to document the accident scene. Take photographs and video footage of the scene. While at it, make sure that the photos you take clearly show the extent of the damage, injuries sustained, the other vehicle’s license plates, and anything else that could be relevant to your case.

Call your insurance company.

Fault notwithstanding, making a report of the accident to your insurer as soon as possible is essential. Most insurance policies require that you make a report to their office in case of an accident. Other than remaining on the insurer’s records, the report can serve as evidence of the crash where a police report is missing.

Collect witness reports. 

After an accident, it’s always necessary to talk to people who may have witnessed the accident happen. Among them, you may be able to identify individuals who are willing to help you as witnesses to your case.

Video footage from nearby businesses or homes. 

If your accident happened in a residential area or near business premises, checking to see if they have CCTV surveillance can help. CCTV footage can be used in court by the Corpus Christi car accident lawyers you hire to prove fault in court.

Let our Corpus Christi car accident attorneys handle your personal injury case.

If you have suffered an injury in an auto crash and are feeling stranded for not having the police report after a car accident, don’t despair. The experienced Corpus Christi car accident attorneys at Burkett Law Firm can help you with your case.

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What You Need to Know About Child Protection Orders- Guest Post

  

What You Need to Know About Child Protection Orders

Children are vulnerable in nature and need maximum protection, not just from family and relatives, but also from the government. Laws that mitigate abusive behaviours protect children, covering their basic rights for a normal, safe, healthy, and happy life. The alarming increase in child abuse in the UK highlights the importance of child protection orders to safeguard their well-being.  It is not unusual for households with domestic violence that children suffer from physical, mental, verbal, psychological, or sexual abuse.  This is when child protection orders come in full force. 

What are child protection orders?

Child protection orders are designed to protect the child from an abusive family member or any person who intentionally harms him. They are also applicable in cases where the child’s basic needs are neglected. After a thorough review of the pieces of evidence and testimonies from credible people, the court may issue any of the following child protection orders:

  • Interim care orders (ICO) – They give parental responsibility to the local authority or social workers to place the child in the care of a carer or anyone in his extended family like a grandparent, aunt, or uncle. 
  • Interim supervision orders (ISO)– The type of orders that place the child under the local authority’s supervision, but allow the parents or guardians to have parental responsibility. 
  • Emergency protection orders (EPO) – In exceptionally serious situations, the court issues an EPO to allow the local authority to remove the child from the present home environment along with limited parental responsibility for the child. The order takes effect for up to 8 days and can be extended for another 7 days if the court sees the danger is still present. 
  • Child assessment orders – These orders instruct the parents to make sure that the child is available for psychiatric, medical, or social work assessments when the court says it is necessary for the case. 

Who is allowed to apply for child protection orders?

Anyone can apply for child protection orders if they believe that the child is neglected, ill-treated, or abused in ways that cause significant harm or likely to harm him. 

  • A biological parent
  • A family member
  • A guardian
  • A grandparent
  • Local authority or social worker
  • NSPCC
  • Police
  • Any person who has shared parental responsibility for the child

How to file for a child protection order?

To obtain any of the child protection orders,  the applicant should fill out a form, petition for the order, and file it to the court. The petitioner needs to prove that there is a valid reason for getting a child protection order. It involves submitting assessments, witness testimonies, and other pertinent evidence that will support your request. From there, the court will review the request and the supporting documents and make a decision to grant or deny the request.

Why is there a need for child assessment?

If after the enquiries, the evidence shows that the child is suffering significant harm or likely to suffer significant harm, the court and the parties involved in the case can decide to know more about the situation of the child. This may result in a series of assessments conducted by an independent expert agency. The parents, guardians, social services, and other qualified individuals will be asked to share their insights. The court will assess the report and use it to make a decision. 

Are child protection conferences necessary?

Child protection conferences (CPCs) are arranged by the social services to pool information and discuss any relevant issues and concerns of people who care for the child. 

  • Parents
  • Guardians and carers
  • Family members
  • Older siblings
  • Teachers, doctors, and other professionals who are involved with the child
  • Social services
  • The child, if he is old enough to understand the situation

If the parent or carer of the child does not want to attend the conference or is unable to do due to some circumstances, it will be fine. However, it will leave an impression of unwillingness to cooperate or engage and affect the assessment of the threshold. Hence, it is necessary to attend all the conferences to show good faith and willingness to the process.

The meeting should be held within 15 working days of the strategy discussion. If during the culmination of the conference or a series of conferences, there is a finding that the child is likely to suffer significant harm in the future, the group will come up with a child protection plan. 

A child protection plan details the actions that need to be taken, by whom and by when to ensure that the child is safe. It would be reviewed regularly during the conferences until he is safe or taken into care. If needed, it will be updated to guarantee his safety in the future.

On the other hand, if there are serious circumstances like sexual abuse, physical abuse, emotional abuse, physical injury, domestic violence, harm, or neglect, the case can go to legal planning with the possibility of issuing court proceedings. During the proceedings, the parents and carers of the child will be given a chance to explain or defend themselves. They would be needing legal assistance to ensure that they fully understand the process and the documentation necessary for child protection. 

What happens when the request is granted?

Once granted, the applicant has the right to remove the child from his present home and take him to a safe place. If the child is already placed in a safe place like a hospital, child centre, or a residence of anyone who shares parental responsibility, the order will prevent the parent or carer from taking him away. The parent can file for a recall of the child protection order with the help of a family solicitor. 

Anyone who violates child protection orders can be arrested and faced a criminal offence. Violating a child protection order can result in both civil and criminal penalties. If the order carries some criminal consequences, the violator can be charged with a misdemeanour, contempt of a court order, or felony. It would mean conviction and heavy fines.