The Healthcare Client Data Exposure Incident


Increased access to modern communications tools is largely responsible for the global explosion in social media usage. Despite the positive connotation, engaging in social media raises the prospect of privacy infractions and security lapses. Some HIPAA infractions included healthcare operations, including the publication of protected health information (PHI) by healthcare providers (Gómez-Vírseda et al., 2019). Sometimes, workers do not realize that what they post online violates HIPAA. However, it is essential to realize that any reference to a patient’s data online constitutes an invasion of privacy, regardless of whether the patient’s name is included.

There should be no online discussion among healthcare professionals about protected health information. Such knowledge goes viral in a relatively short amount of time. This paper will examine a possible HIPAA breach caused by the publication of sensitive patient information. The paper will begin by analyzing the effect of technology on healthcare practice as it relates to HIPAA, law, and regulations. The article will also review the data exposure, discuss what the healthcare providers should have done, and provide recommendations. The report will also include a discussion of the pros and cons of technology as they relate to HIPAA rules, as well as a conclusion and self-evaluation.

HIPAA, Legal, and Regulatory Discussion

Access to patients’ health information is regulated under HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. These rules established parameters for how medical records might be shared or used. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act establishes rules for how medical professionals may use and share their patients’ personal information. HIPAA compliance is essential when protecting the information patients share with their doctors (Moore, & Frye, 2019). The regulations are grounded in the principle of secrecy, which ensures open communication between doctors and their patients. Damages awarded for violations of these requirements may be subject to criminal or civil penalties. As more and more hospitals and clinics embrace electronic health records, it is more important than ever for healthcare workers to maintain patient confidentiality. Data storage, electronic communication, and network security are all examples of technological functions used in clinical practice.

For the sake of HIPAA compliance, medical professionals should evaluate cloud-based solutions like iCloud as well as traditional on-premise data storage options. Maintaining a safe and sound network infrastructure is also crucial. This constitutes a technique for transmitting data via electronic mail, the World Wide Web, or even secure internal networks. According to Moore & Frye (2019), if one sends an email containing sensitive information, one must ensure it can only be accessed by those who need to read it. Any system’s communication should be encrypted before being sent. Healthcare facilities should use encryption if any time-sensitive patient information is being transmitted.

Technology and Healthcare Regulations

The healthcare industry is experiencing a period of rapid technological change. Now more than ever, patients can get the individualized care they need because of the widespread availability of freely available hardware, online health resources, and mobile applications. However, healthcare regulations have moved slowly, making it impossible to implement cutting-edge technological standards (Moore, & Frye, 2019). The current healthcare rules, for instance, could be ineffective when applied to open-source gear. To make matters more complicated, it might be hard to tell when these rules apply.

Technology and Legal Guidelines

Nurses’ increasing reliance on healthcare IT raises several legal and ethical concerns. Kamal (2018) argues that several problems arise from using technology, even though privacy and confidentiality are paramount concerns in the electronic storage of information. Nurses, for instance, are increasingly switching from paper to electronic medical records. There are also issues with the law about inter-institutional data sharing and incorporating genomic data into clinical records. Another legal concern about PHI is that of informed consent.

Scenario ending and recommendations

My hypothetical situation involves a HIPAA violation that results in the publication of sensitive client information. The Elite Dental Associates of Dallas (Elite) case study helps elucidate my scenario. After receiving a complaint that Elite had published PHI on a social media platform, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced a settlement (Makhlouf, 2021). Elite had disclosed personal information about the patient, including name, treatment plan, cost, and insurance details, on the social media review platform. According to OCR’s investigation, Elite had made similar remarks about other patients.

Action Taken

OCR found that Elite improperly shared PHI and did not have PHI social media procedures. Elite had trampled on the patients’ most basic rights. Elite was ordered to pay a $10,000 fine following the terms of the resolution.


  1. Elite should have conformed its practices and policies to the regulations governing the protection of personal information.
  2. The Elite staff should have been educated on the importance of HIPAA compliance.
  3. The OCR should have informed the patient whose PHI was compromised of the breach and requested a report detailing the unauthorized disclosure.

Advantages and Disadvantages


The effects of technology in healthcare range from enhanced quality of life and more healthcare employment to economic growth. Technology has improved health care by creating new medical tools and enhancing existing clinical procedures, extending human lifespans. Electronic medical records are one important example (EHRS). Researchers in the field of health informatics agree with the claims made by Makhlouf (2021) that EHR is an evolving system that has aided in medical diagnosis and treatment. Therefore, many healthcare networks are interconnected, facilitating information sharing. Similarly, wearable technology has facilitated patient data collection, facilitating the ease with which doctors evaluate patients’ health. Genome sequencing, which can lead to potentially life-saving treatments, has also been made easier by technological advancements.


The use of technology in medicine is not without its dangers. By way of illustration, when data is stored digitally, it opens itself up to the risk of being hacked. Information entered incorrectly can have similar consequences, threatening the system’s reliability. Patient outcomes can be impacted by technical issues in the healthcare system, just as they might in any other system. The new technology comes at a very high price. It can be expensive for the healthcare facility to do the necessary testing, educate new staff, and completely redesign the existing system.

Ethical Guidelines

Ethically, medical professionals should adhere to a code of ethics when using technology to prevent unintended consequences. Autonomy, a cornerstone of the healthcare industry’s ethics, necessitates informed decision-making based on the patient’s values and priorities (Gómez-Vírseda, De Maeseneer, & Gastmans, 2019). Similarly, non-maleficence mandates that healthcare professionals take precautions to prevent harm, such as disclosing protected health information on social media. Therefore, equality of care for all patients is a hallmark of justice.

Conclusion and Reflection

This project has allowed me to expand my understanding of how to incorporate technology into my healthcare practice. Thanks to this project, I better grasp HIPAA requirements and the significance of maintaining privacy when working with protected health information. The knowledge gained here could be useful when incorporating new technologies into my nursing practice. Keeping up with the pros and cons of evolving technologies will help me provide better care to my patients. That excellent judgment is crucial to positive health outcomes is something I fully grasp. Understanding the ethical and regulatory considerations involved in implementing technology in my practice would also necessitate familiarity with HIPAA.


Gómez-Vírseda, C., De Maeseneer, Y., & Gastmans, C. (2019). Relational autonomy: what does it mean, and how is it used in end-of-life care? A systematic review of argument-based ethics literature. BMC Medical ethics, 20(1), 1-15. Web.

Kamal, J. I. A. (2018). Implementation of electronic medical records in developing countries: Challenges and barriers. Development, 7, 3. Web.

Makhlouf, M. D. (2021). Health Care Sanctuaries. Yale Journal of. Health Policy, Law & Ethics, 20, 1-67. Web.

Moore, W., & Frye, S. (2019). Review of HIPAA, part 1: History, protected health information, and privacy and security rules. Journal of Nuclear Medicine Technology, 47(4), 269-272. Web.

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