Badly handled medical records lead to $800,000 HIPAA violation

More than 70 boxes of medical records were left outside a physician's home in 2009.

Healthcare providers need to be wary of ongoing practices and legal procedures that pertain to past violations. Parkview Health is learning a hard lesson about HIPAA violations, as the organization has been levied with an $800,000 fine for bad practices involving records.

A release from the Department of Health and Human Services puts it plainly: five years ago, more than 70 boxes filled with medical records were left unguarded outside of a physician's home by Parkview Health System, Inc. employees. The source notes that the information pertained to a batch of thousands of patients that the healthcare provider was attempting to process on behalf of another physician.

It might not be the largest records-related fine that we've seen so far this year, but it does serve as another reminder of the carelessness that can lead to significant consequences for unprepared providers.

The release quotes from the Office for Civil Rights' health information privacy director Christine Heide on the ease with which bad practices can be tracked and corrected in this regard.

"All too often we receive complaints of records being discarded or transferred in a manner that puts patient information at risk," she said. "It is imperative that HIPAA covered entities and their business associates protect patient information during its transfer and disposal."

By turning to HIPAA compliance consulting, medical practices can make it more likely that when they do have to destroy old records, they only do it in a way that leaves no chance of error or violation. Just because time has passed doesn't mean that the need for proper redress is any weaker.

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