I see a lot of HIPAAphobia in the nursing realm. I have read several stories about nurses terrified of being fined or being exposed to criminal penalties for HIPAA violations. I have read in nursing text and literature about HIPAA violations and consequences. I am, however, skeptical of the idea that a run-of-the-mill staff nurse can be charged with a HIPAA/HITECH violation. To be clear, a nurse can certainly be punished by the BON, fired, and subject to civil suit under state law (or even criminal law depending on the state and the circumstances). I am, however, hard-pressed to find any justification for Uncle Sam punishing a nurse under HIPAA/HITECH. The way I see it, HIPAA/HITECH cannot be used to enforce penalties against an individual staff nurse. Can anyone prove me wrong?
What?!? Your thread title is "Nurses can't be punished for violating HIPAA", but you admitted in your original post that nurses definitely can be punished for violating HIPAA. You know as well as I do that most nurses reading this won't care at all about how likely they are to be federally prosecuted. That means nothing, because they can still easily lose their job (and along with it any recommendation for any decent job in the future) because of a HIPAA violation. Federal prosecution (or the lack thereof) is pretty much meaningless for the average nurse.
Your point that any given nurse is extremely unlikely to be federally prosecuted is true, but it's a purely intellectual argument. It's more or less meaningless in the context of day to day nursing practice and job security.
Last edit by Comis on Mar 7, '13