In 1996, the United States Congress passed the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, better known as HIPAA. Their first goal was to protect the health insurance coverage of workers and their dependents when they left or changed jobs. The second goal was to establish national standards for electronic transmission of healthcare information with the goal of ensuring patient privacy. HIPAA also defines health records and determines who has the right to access such records and for what purpose. HIPAA violations include accidental or willful misuse of an individual's healthcare records or information by a health care facility (medical records) or medical professionals. Healthcare providers must inform patients about their HIPAA policy and disclose how their information will be used and protected.
As a courier, it is vital that you treat all patient information as private. That includes patient records, information on patient samples, and any patient information you may have overheard while working in the laboratory or physician office. You should receive information about patient privacy during your new employee orientation period. Remember, it is NEVER acceptable to discuss private patient information with anyone not directly responsible for that patient's care. Violating these privacy policies can lead to termination and even fines.