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HIPAA Compliance in Pharmacies

If you’re a pharmacist or a pharmacy owner in California, you know it’s part of your job to keep your patients’ private health information safe. This is according to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA, a law which protects patients’ protected health information.

“What is protected health information (PHI) in pharmacies?” PHI is information that can identify a patient, which you use, create, or share while providing healthcare services. In your pharmacy, PHI includes things like patient names, addresses, social security numbers, and details about their medications. Because PHI is sensitive, HIPAA pharmacy laws require strict rules to prevent it from being shared without permission.

HIPAA allows for patients to ask for limits on how their PHI is used. Every pharmacy must follow HIPAA rules to respect and uphold these rights.

Following HIPAA Rules as a Pharmacy

Your pharmacy deals with PHI every day, so following HIPAA rules is baked into your daily work. These include keeping electronic health records, sending bills to insurance companies, and talking to patients about their medication to name a few. Your pharmacy needs to control who can see PHI, only share the minimum amount of information needed, and follow certain steps when talking to patients or other healthcare providers.

What Happens if a Pharmacy Breaks HIPAA Rules?

Breaking HIPAA rules can lead to serious problems. You can be fined and may potentially face criminal charges, depending on the violation. Beyond the financial ramifications, HIPAA violations can also harm your pharmacy’s reputation and make patients lose trust in you. Some examples of pharmacy HIPAA violations in California show just how serious this can be.

Business Partners

HIPAA rules also affect any business partners your pharmacy works with. These are third parties that help with services involving PHI. You need to have a special agreement with these businesses, called a Business Associate Agreement (BAA), to explain how they must protect PHI. A pharmacy law attorney can help you draft and check these agreements to make sure they meet HIPAA requirements.

Training Pharmacy Staff on HIPAA Rules

It’s crucial that all pharmacy staff understand HIPAA rules, not just pharmacists. A good HIPAA training for pharmacy program helps your team understand what PHI is, how to handle it securely, and what happens if they don’t follow the rules. A healthcare attorney can help you set up or improve such a program to make sure it’s up-to-date and covers everything it needs to.

HIPAA Audits

The Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights periodically uses audits to check that organizations are following HIPAA rules. If your pharmacy is, it can be stressful, but a pharmacy attorney can help. They can help you get ready for the audit, check your policies and procedures, and deal with any problems that come up.

Understanding all the HIPAA rules and how to follow them can be tricky, but as a pharmacist or pharmacy owner in California, it’s a vital part of your job. With so many regulations and serious penalties if you don’t follow them, having a skilled pharmacy attorney to help you can be really important. They can help train your staff, prepare for audits, work with business partners, make sure patient rights are respected, and help protect your pharmacy’s reputation and the trust your patients have in you.

Speak to California Pharmacy Attorney

HIPAA compliance is crucial to running a successful and trusted pharmacy. Maintaining compliance is an ongoing matter that requires regular attention and a deep understanding of the  HIPAA pharmacy requirements. 

Fenton Law will be able to guide you through your HIPAA compliance needs. For more information on how hiring an attorney can help you or your pharmacy, fill out our online contact form today.