HIPAA does not allow patients to sue for violations. However, under state laws, healthcare providers can be sued. Patients can file complaints with OCR or state attorneys general, resulting in investigations. If proven, patients may receive compensation for damages or losses.
Understanding HIPAA violations and legal actions
HIPAA violations can occur when a covered entity, such as a healthcare provider, fails to comply with the law's privacy and security standards. These violations can lead to the unauthorized disclosure of PHI, putting patients' sensitive information at risk. While HIPAA does not provide a private cause of action for patients to sue directly for a violation, patients can explore other legal avenues.
Filing Complaints for HIPAA Violations
Suppose a patient believes their HIPAA rights have been violated. In that case, they can file a complaint with the Department of Health and Human Services' Office for Civil Rights (OCR), the federal agency responsible for enforcing HIPAA. The complaint should include details of the alleged violation and evidence supporting the claim.
In addition to filing a complaint with OCR, patients can also file complaints with state attorneys general, who have the authority to pursue cases against HIPAA-covered entities for violations. The actions taken against the covered entity will depend on various factors, including the nature and severity of the breach and the number of individuals impacted.
Legal actions against covered entities
While HIPAA does not provide a private cause of action, patients may still be able to take legal action against healthcare providers under state laws. In some states, patients can file lawsuits against covered entities for negligence or breach of an implied contract. These lawsuits typically require patients to prove that harm or damage has been suffered due to the violation.
To pursue legal action, patients should consult an attorney specializing in healthcare law and HIPAA regulations. Patients may also consider joining existing class action lawsuits, as the strength of the case may be enhanced with more individuals involved.
Before taking legal action, patients should consider what they hope to achieve. Legal action against a covered entity can be costly and time-consuming, with no guarantee of success. Patients should weigh the potential benefits against the potential drawbacks and explore alternative solutions that may help them achieve their goals.
Potential damages and settlements
Winning a legal case against a covered entity can entitle a patient to damages, such as compensation for harm or loss caused by the violation, including medical expenses, emotional distress, or loss of income. The amount of damages awarded will depend on the specific case.