in HIPAA Headlines by John Brewer

Part of ensuring your practice runs like a well oiled machine is having processes in place for every little item so everyone know how things should work.

This helps standardize training.

This helps you operate in a HIPAA compliant manner.

Even the most mundane items need to have a proper process in place these days.

Example: today at our office we received a fax from a medical office that was the result of a medical test.  This fax contains plenty of patient health information (PHI).  The practice does at least have a very basic disclaimer on the cover sheet…that much was done correctly.

I called the practice to let them know of the error.

They apologized.  They asked my number to remove it from their list, but looking at the number they meant to send this to, they don’t have my fax on a list.  My fax and the fax number they meant to send to are 1-digit different.

They did not ask me to destroy the fax.

What should be the process of faxing?

  1. Use a cover sheet that clearly defines the following:
    • The recipients name
    • The recipients fax number
    • A voice call back number to your office
    • A HIPAA disclaimer
  2. Call the location where the fax will be sent
  3. Confirm the fax number
    • It is preferred to have all fax numbers in the memory of the fax machine, which reduces the possibility of errant dialing
  4. Ensure somebody is actively waiting on the fax
  5. After the fax is successfully sent, call the office to which the fax was sent to ensure they received the fax
    • A successfully sent fax is important.  If the fax was not successful AND a wrong number was dialed, then no data was transmitted.
  6. If they received the fax you are done, otherwise continue to the next step
  7. If the office did not receive the fax continue here…
  8. Look at the number dialed on the fax machine and manually call it
  9. If the phone is answered by a person then this phone number is a dual use line meaning it can accept both faxes & voice calls.  Speak to the person on the other side and inform them you believe a fax was erroneously sent to their number.  Request that they find the fax, and destroy it.  Make note of this action in your Fax Error log.
  10. If the phone is answered by a fax machine, send another fax to this number informing them of the error and requesting that they destroy the previously sent fax.  Ask them to inform you of this completion.  Make note of this action in your Fax Error Log.

As you can see, even for a simple-old-fax, have a solid process in place is important to ensure that you reduce the risk to your practice

About John Brewer

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