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Is a HIPAA Violation a Form of Medical Malpractice?

Written by Jared Staver

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Jared Staver is a Personal Injury Lawyer based in Chicago, Illinois and has been practicing law for over 20 years.

Jared Staver

CATEGORY: Medical Malpractice


When we visit the doctor, we expect for our doctor’s entire medical staff to professionally handle our sensitive and private information. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) establishes specifics on how medical staff and insurance providers must do this. While HIPAA violations are not necessarily issues of medical malpractice, they have been found to be relevant in certain cases where they occurred due to a doctor failing to properly uphold the standard of care.

Injuries and violations that happen during medical care can be extremely personal and devastating. If you find yourself in this difficult situation, speak with one of our skilled Chicago medical malpractice lawyers right away about a possible HIPAA violation.,

Contact Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. today at (312) 236-2900 to schedule a free consultation.

HIPAA Violations vs. Medical Malpractice

A physician can be sued for medical malpractice if they fail to provide the standard of care for their patient that is reasonably expected. If you feel that you are a victim of a doctor’s negligence, then you would argue that the treatment you received was below this standard. The law does not establish specific technical rules or criteria which spell out when a case is determined malpractice.

HIPPA provides the standards for the confidentiality, security, and transmission of a patient’s personal health information. Unlike with malpractice, the criteria for a HIPAA violation are specifically spelled out. If found to have violated a patient’s rights under HIPAA, a physician or insurance company could face sanctions in addition to a large fine. If there is an occurrence of repeated privacy violations, the FBI could conduct a criminal investigation.

While victims of HIPAA violations usually do not file a lawsuit as a medical malpractice claim, there have been exceptions. Walgreen’s pharmacy was successfully sued for $1.44 million in a malpractice suit for a HIPAA violation. The victim’s attorney argued that following HIPAA was within the expected standard of care for a patient, and Walgreen’s pharmacist violated that standard of care by failing to meet HIPAA requirements.

Common HIPAA Violations That Are Not Medical Malpractice

It can be argued that any HIPAA violation is a case where the reasonably expected standard of care was not met, and therefore a malpractice suit can follow. However, often times HIPAA violations occur in scenarios where malpractice doesn’t even come to mind, and therefore, a malpractice suit will likely not be the route pursued by your attorney on your behalf. Some common reasons for HIPAA violations include:

  • Employees of medical, pharmaceutical, or insurance companies gossiping with friends or speaking while in the presence of others who should not have a patient’s private information.
  • Employees accessing files to which they should not have access. This can be done accidentally or on purpose.
  • Improper handling and storing of medical records. When your information is shared between medical professionals, it must be sent in a responsible manner and stored securely.
  • Lost or stolen computers or cellphones with your information on them can result in HIPAA violations if they were not protected properly.
  • Using non-work computers to access a patient’s information can result in a violation if it allows for non-authorized people to have access to your private medical records.
  • Failure to properly train medical and office staff on HIPAA rules can be a violation if it results in a patient’s information being jeopardized.

Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. Can Help You

HIPAA violations are not usually considered medical malpractice, but there is always the possibility that they can be used to show that your doctor failed to meet the standard of care in your treatment, and therefore, you may also be a victim of medical malpractice. A violation of your privacy can be devastating and overwhelming, and it’s important to seek legal counsel immediately if this happens to you.

Pursuing a HIPAA violation requires that you act quickly, and follow the protocol that is established by this federal law. Our Chicago medical malpractice lawyers understand how HIPAA claims are handled by the courts, and we know how to protect your rights as you seek to recover damages.To speak with a skilled lawyer about your case, and any privacy violations that may have occurred in your medical care, contact Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. as soon as possible.

Call us today to schedule a free appointment at (312) 236-2900.

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(312) 236-2900
(312) 236-2900
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