OSHA and HIPAA Compliance for Medical and Dental Practices
As most medical and dental professionals may know already, OSHA is always watching for the workers’ and patients’ wellbeing. As a natural consequence and because of the power this agency has, OSHA is also willing to set dramatic penalties to those professionals and organizations that don’t take the proper measures to keep the work environment hazard-free.
But there is more: the well-known HIPAA represents another strong legal commitment to medical and dental practices across the United States. Not being compliant on both puts the practice in serious risk of expensive fines and other penalties.
At Level Safety Consulting, we want you to know what OSHA demands to medical and dental practices, also the details of being HIPAA compliant.
What is OSHA?
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, also known as OSHA, is a federal agency that oversees the healthful working conditions, also being responsible for enforcing the necessary standards. This agency is part of the United States Department of Labor and it was established in 1970.
OSHA embraces all industries in the US, using different guidelines with each. To enforce these guidelines, the agency conducts audits to know in detail if the office is respecting the law in question.
OSHA Standards in Medical and Dental Offices
As the OSHA standards are extraordinarily vast and complex, we will only address the most relevant ones for medical and dental offices, those that cover the biggest hazards in the practice.
At Level Safety Consulting, we are experts in OSHA standards, making us the best ally for medical and dental practices in the US.
- Bloodborne Pathogens
- Hazard Communication (popularly known as “employee right-to-know”)
- Ionizing Radiation
- Exit Routes
- OSHA Poster
- Reporting Occupational Injuries and Illnesses
What is HIPAA?
On the other side, we have HIPAA. Also, known as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, it was enacted in 1996. Title II of HIPAA established nation-wide standards for PHI, which stands for Protected Health Information.
HIPAA was born after realizing that the healthcare record system in the US needed important modifications. Before this act, it was terribly difficult to successfully change from an insurance company or doctor as the healthcare records contained highly sensitive information and handling the file from one side to the other was risky.
Avoiding Serious Fines
Medical and dental practices that fail in meeting both OSHA’s and HIPAA’s standards face important fines. The responsible professionals must do everything within their reach to meet these standards and respect the protocols already defined by law.
OSHA can fine organizations up to $70,000 per violation, while HIPAA can do it for $50,000 per violation. These fines, when accumulated, have a yearly limit but can easily go beyond the $1,000,000-mark. “Not knowing” mistakes may be as bad as willful scenarios, so be careful.
At Level Safety Consulting, we always recommend our clients to have the initiative in this matter. If your practice gets audited by either OSHA or HIPAA, you could suffer terrible fines that could jeopardize your entire operation.
Properly setting up your office to meet these standards is not only recommended but necessary. OSHA is looking for workers’ and patients’ wellbeing, so should you too. In the case of HIPAA, everything related to Protected Health Information carries an important responsibility that ethical professionals need to face.