In 1996, the U.S. government enacted the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA. The law is meant to keep a patient's medical information private.
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If any health-care provider shares medical information about you without your consent, that is a HIPAA violation. This includes telling people of your condition, discussing your condition in public, or using your information in a medical brief (an instructional tool for other doctors like a book or a presentation) without your consent.
Too many looks at a medical record can suggest a violation of the law. As HIPAAPS.com notes, one woman learned her records had been accessed more than 200 times by various employees of the hospital. Sometimes, this happens when a patient with an abnormal condition comes into an office or because people are simply curious.
Offices and hospitals are required to shred and dispose of any medical records. Most hospitals have disposal services. If records are thrown out whole, they are at a risk of getting get stolen or read. The HIPAA violation would be against the hospital because of neglect.
Sometimes, employers violate HIPAA. If an official from the company you work for reads your medical information and uses it to make a decision about you, that is a violation. An example is if your employer finds out from a doctor that you are pregnant or mentally unstable and you get fired because of it.
Celebrities and HIPAA
Medical records of celebrities or politicians are occasionally sold to newspapers or tabloids. The people who leaked the medical information are at risk of being prosecuted for HIPAA violations because the information was given out without the person's approval.