HIPAA Guidelines for Nursing Students

It is crucial for nursing students to be familiar with the HIPAA guidelines since nursing students perform a role in providing healthcare. When nursing students do not have enough training in HIPAA compliance, the privacy of Protected Health Information (PHI) may be threatened when they perform their roles.

The nursing career isn’t very easy. When nursing students begin their careers, a lot must be taken into consideration. Besides learning the competencies of their occupation and finishing years of training, nursing students are often requested to provide healthcare. Though they are typically supervised whenever dealing with patients, there is a risk of HIPAA violation without an understanding of HIPAA.

For instance, when a nursing student shares their activities with friends on social media, it is vital that the student knows what makes up PHI, which information can be disclosed, and the fines for sharing PHI with no authorization. In case a nursing student lacks training on the HIPAA guidelines, and reveals a patient’s name on a social media post, the results could affect the training organization and the student´s future career.

Who is Accountable for Training Nursing Students regarding HIPAA?

The HIPAA guidelines for nursing students are the exact same HIPAA guidelines for other workforce of a covered entity. This is due to the fact the HIPAA Privacy Rule refers to a Covered Entity´s workforce as employees, trainees, volunteers, and other individuals whose behavior, in the conduct of duty for a Covered Entity, is directly controlled by such Covered Entity, whether the Covered Entity paid them.

Even so, when a nursing student at a teaching organization doesn’t meet the criteria as a Covered Entity (i.e., one that doesn’t offer medical care services to non-students), the teaching institution is not covered by the HIPAA guidelines for nursing students. In this instance, the medical center where a nursing student is put on duty on a clinical schedule will be the entity in charge of nursing students’ training on HIPAA, that is if the medical center is a Covered Entity.

The problem in comprehending the HIPAA guidelines for nursing students can appear here since Covered Entities merely need to (by 45 CFR § 164.530 https://www.hipaaguide.net/what-is-45-cfr-164-530/) offer training on “policies and procedures regarding PHI […] as required and suitable for members of the employees to perform their roles”. This prerequisite means nursing students might not completely comprehend policy and procedure training because of an insufficiency of fundamental understanding regarding the Privacy and Security Rules.

How to Mitigate Likely Violations because of a Lack of Knowledge

Covered Entities, both training institutions and healthcare facilities, could mitigate the threat of likely HIPAA violations because of an insufficiency of knowledge by giving fundamental HIPAA training to every student and new, novice workers. This will provide them a basic instruction in HIPAA basics, so they are better prepared to know and adhere to policies pertaining to unauthorized disclosures, patients´ rights, and the Minimum Necessary Standard.

The fundamental HIPAA training must likewise include subjects like computer safety guidelines, threats to patient information, and securing ePHI from cyber threats. This way students can better know security and awareness training (as demanded by 45 CFR § 164.308 https://www.hipaaguide.net/what-is-45-cfr-164-308/), better value the reason why the Technical Safeguards of the Security Rule restrict access to ePHI, and better identify phishing attempts as well as other attacks that can cause malware installation on healthcare programs.

To minimize the cost of delivering fundamental HIPAA training to students, Covered Entities can use readily available HIPAA training programs. Although these programs do not substitute a Covered Entity´s responsibility to give policy and procedure training, they provide online training modules so learners can have their own time, keep track of every student´s progress with the course, and could be reused for nursing students’ yearly refresher training on the HIPAA guidelines.

Giving Nursing Students Refresher Training on the HIPAA Guidelines

As stated previously, nursing students need a lot when starting a nursing career. If basic HIPAA training is given at the beginning of a course, it is easier to absorb the elements of HIPAA training and not be overloaded by the amount of other information students need to learn. Nevertheless, an understanding of HIPAA is important when students meet the criteria and start work in a Covered Entity, thus it is advisable to provide refresher HIPAA training at least yearly.

Giving nursing students refresher training on the HIPAA guidelines not only reminds them of HIPAA compliance but also helps them get over bad influences that could skimp on compliance, for example when nursing professionals take shortcuts to complete the job and non-compliance becomes the cultural convention. This case study https://www.sciedupress.com/journal/index.php/jnep/article/view/9579/6041 shows how cultural conventions in nursing units could adversely impact compliance and possibly terminate students´ careers.

The case study additionally shows why compliance specialists propose to provide HIPAA refresher training at least yearly to all the Covered Entity´s employees. Although scheduling refresher training may be hard when there are staff shortages or medical emergencies, it’s possible to roll out the online modular courses employed to train nursing students on the HIPAA guidelines repeatedly to conserve Covered Entity’s time and resources and improve their compliance profiles.