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Does anyone know about HIPAA and texting

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tikifragalong
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 22, 2012 5:05 pm    Post subject: Does anyone know about HIPAA and texting Reply with quote

I am studying for the nursing exam, and part of that is getting an understanding of HIPAA, especially patient records confidentiality.

From what I understand, Doctors, Nurses and Hospitals can send any patient information such as discharge or admission times, and certainly not any information about their medical issues, through a non-HIPAA compliant system.

Text messages between patient and doctors are a good example of this, since the data can be intercepted, or the information is stored on the phone and loosing the phone would be a breech of patient confidentiality.

Yet, I see it all the time in hospital and doctorís offices, and I have received texts from doctors with confidential patient information.

As I was looking into this issue, I found that Tigertext.com provides a HIPAA compliant text messaging system that meets HIPAA rules, since the text messages self delete from the phone after they are read.

So, my questions are:

What is the penalty for breeching patient confidentially by sending normal text messages?
Tigertext cost $10 a month, which is very affordable, but should the hospital provide it to itís staff, or should the doctors and nurses get it individually?
Will a hospital be HIPAA compliant if it doesnít provide it for itís staff?

The HIPAA Security rules are here:

http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/privacy/hipaa/understanding/srsummary.html

http://www.tigertext.com/business/healthcare/
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Tom Bair
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 23, 2012 12:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

In the State of Oregon, only one health provider uses the Patient Text practice. That would be Kaiser Permante. Although I never go to the doctor (okay ... once a year for a physical), my wife spends a great deal of time with them. She is on the text program and loves it.

Liability of patient privacy lies with the provider AND his/her employer in this state. That means the Doctor, Nurse Practicioner, or Specialist is holding patient confidence liability along with whomever employs them.

Less than a year after Kaiser started the texting program, they were sued by a patient for breach of contract. Patient's phone was stolen, and the theives used data from her phone to fill prescription refills on her account. The thieves were caught and charged with identity theft, among other charges, but the patient felt her privacy was put in danger by Kaiser.

The court ruled in Kaiser's favor. The woman was the breach of confidentuality when she lost control of her phone by theft. The Appeals court supported the ruling. Comes down to if you elect to use this means of communication with your Doctor, you also assume equal responsibility of liability in maintaining your rights of confidentuality.

(Yeah!) Very Happy

Tom
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tikifragalong
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 30, 2012 8:52 pm    Post subject: Seriously?!?!? Reply with quote

That is a crazy lawsuit! Thank you so much for the information!!
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Tom Bair
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 30, 2012 11:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree, but I feel the American society is becoming sue happy. It's sad and sorry, but it is what it is.

Just last week Kaiser was in the news again up here in Portland, Oregon. Seems a used hard drive was bought from a Goodwill store in Sacramento, California and the purchaser found a database on the hard drive listing the names, addresses, phone numbers, and social security numbers of 48 thousand Kaiser employees in the Western states.

The man contacted Kaiser and informed them of what he had. It took about a week, but they got the hard drive back from him (he was totally coorperative, just that it took the big organization that long to figure out what to do).

Kaiser then offered ALL their employees in the western states free credit checking and assistance in any ID theft events occuring within the next two years.

No word on if the purchaser was ever rewarded or not.
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