There is good reason why, in our court system, witnesses are asked to swear to tell (1) the truth; (2) the whole truth; and (3) nothing but the truth. Unfortunately, in bureaucracy and business, this is not also the case. This is especially true when it comes to HIPAA awareness, action and inaction. Most of the time, statements made by hospital bureaucrats about HIPAA regulations fail the second test, and often the third. There are also countless anecdotes of professionals in the hospital environment who, trying to improve patient care, are stopped in their tracks by overzealous colleagues proclaiming in-depth knowledge of the regulation when in fact they don’t possess the correct in-depth knowledge.
Make no mistake; HIPAA is a very important regulation that protects patients from a variety of leaks that could negatively affect their lives, work and families. The regulation, including its tightening in the last year, is very broad and complex. And, most would agree that unless you are one of the authors, reading it will provide as much pleasure as plucking a live porcupine with your bare hands.