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If a patient's medical report is faxed to an incorrect number, is it considered a HIPAA breach?

North Little Rock, AR |

Is the breach mitigated if there is a cover sheet with a statement regarding HIPAA and to notify sender if received in error? Difficult to keep up with many referring physicians offices changing fax number so frequently.

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Attorney answers 5


Possibly if it was done negligently. I have a disclaimer at the bottom of faxes which says to disregard and return to sender if received in error.

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There is no private right to sue under HIPAA.

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An inadvertent or accidental dissemination of the medical report is probably not a breach that would result in any type of penalty.

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It violates HIPPA whether done mistakenly or intentionally. However, there is no private right of action for violating HIPPA. In other words even if your medical records are disclosed in violation of HIPPA, HIPPA does not provide you with a remedy or right to recover damages.


Yes it is a breach. Not all breaches are reportable to the patient and the federal Office for Civil Rights - but this is one of the things changing in the new rule that was just published today (January 25, 2013). See the link below.

This response is intended to provide general information, but not legal advice. The response may be different if there are other or different facts than those included in the original question. See for more information on why this communication is not privileged or create an attorney-client relationship.

Norman Antonio Stiteler

Norman Antonio Stiteler


Also be aware that these faxes often go other associated covered entities and not into the general public. The new hipaa / hitech rules will no doubt provide some additional impetuous to getting pt portals in place, but this will take.

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