Home Health Specialists has adopted this Sanction Policy to comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (“HIPAA”) and the Department of Health and Human Services (“DHHS”) security and privacy regulations’ requirement for such a policy, as well as to fulfill our duty to protect the confidentiality and integrity of confidential medical information as required by law, professional ethics, and accreditation requirements.
Home Health Specialists has adopted a Security Policy requiring Home Health Specialists and its officers, employees, and agents to protect the integrity and confidentiality of medical and other sensitive information pertaining to our patients. In addition, Home Health Specialists and its departments have adopted policies and standards to carry out the objectives of the Security Policy. Each of these policies and standards notes that all officers, employees, and agents of Home Health Specialists must adhere to these policies and standards, that Home Health Specialists will not tolerate violations of these policies and standards, and that such violations constitute grounds for disciplinary action up to and including termination, professional discipline, and criminal prosecution.
Any officer, employee, or agent of Home Health Specialists who believes another officer, employee, or agent of Home Health Specialists has breached the facility’s Security Policy or the policies and standards promulgated to carry out the objectives of the Security Policy or otherwise breached the integrity or confidentiality of patient or other sensitive information should immediately report such breach to his or her superior or to the Privacy/Security Officer.
The Privacy/Security Officer will conduct a thorough and confidential investigation into the allegations. The facility will inform the complainant of the results of the investigation and any corrective action taken. Home Health Specialists will not retaliate against or permit reprisals against a complainant. Allegations not made in good faith, however, may result in discharge or other discipline.
As noted in the facility’s policies and procedure manual, Home Health Specialists has a progressive discipline policy under which sanctions become more severe for repeated infractions. This policy, however, does not mandate the use of a lesser sanction before Home Health Specialists terminates an employee. In the discretion of management, Home Health Specialists may terminate an employee for the first breach of the facility’s security policy or individual policies and standards if the seriousness of the offense warrants such action. An employee could expect to lose his or her job for a willful or grossly negligent breach of confidentiality, willful or grossly negligent destruction of computer equipment or data, or knowing or grossly negligent violation of HIPAA, its implementing regulations or any other federal or state law protecting the integrity and confidentiality of patient information and may lose his or her job for a negligent breach of Home Health Specialists’ standards for protecting the integrity and confidentiality of patient information. For less serious breaches, management may impose a lesser sanction, such as a verbal or written warning, verbal or written reprimand, loss of access, suspension without pay, demotion, or other sanction. In addition, Home Health Specialists will seek to include such violations by contractors as a ground for termination of the contract and/or imposition of contract penalties.
Violation of the facility’s security policy or individual policies and standards may constitute a criminal offense under HIPAA, other federal laws, such as the Federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1986, 18 U.S.C. § 1030, or state laws. Any employee or contractor who violates such a criminal law may expect that Home Health Specialists will provide information concerning the violation to appropriate law enforcement personnel and will cooperate with any law enforcement investigation or prosecution.
Further, violations of the facility’s security policy or individual policies and standards may violate professional ethics and be grounds for professional discipline. Any individual subject to professional ethics guidelines and/or professional discipline should expect Home Health Specialists to report such violations to appropriate licensure/accreditation agencies and to cooperate with any professional investigation or disciplinary proceedings.
This Sanction Policy is intended as a guide for the efficient and professional performance of Home Health Specialists’ officers,’ employees,’ and agents’ duties to protect the integrity and confidentiality of medical and other sensitive information. Nothing herein shall be construed to be a contract between the employer and the employee. Additionally, nothing in this Sanction Policy is to be construed by any employee as containing binding terms and conditions of employment. Nothing in this Sanction Policy should be construed as conferring any employment rights on employees or changing their status from “at-will employees.” The facility retains the absolute right to terminate any employee, at any time, with or without good cause. Management retains the right to change the contents of this Sanction Policy, as it deems necessary with or without notice.
All officers, employees, and agents of Home Health Specialists are expected to comply and cooperate with the facility’s administration of this policy.
Edward J. Raiburn
President & CEO
April 14, 2003