In the business world, medical practices face a unique set of challenges. In addition to the normal issues involving employees, contracts, and collections, they have the added responsibility of caring for patients while protecting their privacy. This is where an attorney who specializes in health care comes in. Not only can a good lawyer help with the business side of owning and operating a practice, but the distinctive needs of the medical industry can be addressed. In the current atmosphere, privacy and protection of medical and personal information is of the utmost importance. Each practice must evaluate the way it is operating and learn the best and most effective ways to follow a set of laws that are always evolving. Doctors and staff can look to a trusted firm to help navigate their practice through the world of business and the world of HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act).
According to the website for the US Department of Health and Human Services, the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) has documented over 70,982 HIPAA complaints since April 2003. Of those complaints, the most common offenders are private practices. Unlike large hospitals and groups, private practices have the most to lose by breaking HIPAA laws. A large fine can decimate a smaller practice. Recently, a Cardiac Surgery practice in Phoenix was fined $100,000 for non-compliance. Other fines issued to various companies in the health care arena have been upwards of $800,000 to $2 million, depending on the seriousness of the breach. The simplest way to avoid falling victim to the same thing is to hire a firm that can guide the practice in adhering to the strict policies set forth by HIPAA. Doing so can be the difference in success and financial ruin. All it takes is one complaint to start an audit.
A health care attorney will walk the practice through day to day factors that can be problematic, as well as obscure issues that may arise infrequently. Issues range from limiting accessibility to patient information by computer, to turning sheets of paper over that have protected information on them. While one seems obvious and the other effortless, both are easily remedied. Left unattended, both can get a practice into trouble. Compliance is not optional and is not avoidable. A practice must take steps to understand and carryout the mandates set forth in HIPAA, or it is sitting in a very precarious position going forward. The only way to be above reproach is to make sure that all doctors and staff are above reproach. The best way to do that is to hire someone whose job it is to understand every complicated detail of health care law. Hiring an attorney is a best way to maintain the health and well being of every medical practice.