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What Employees Should Know About Medical Privacy Laws in the Workplace

If you work in the medical field, then you understand that there are many privacy compliance regulations and standards that you need to follow. These medical privacy laws, like the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), protect patients’ medical information. But medical privacy laws also extend to employees in the workplace, protecting them from any possible unauthorized access or use of their medical records.

Most employers are required to comply with medical privacy laws, meaning that they must obtain medical information that is necessary for business purposes only, and they must keep medical records confidential. It’s important to know your rights when it comes to medical privacy laws in the workplace, which is why we’ve created this guide for you. 

Who Is Covered By Medical Privacy Laws in the Workplace?

Medical privacy laws in the workplace apply to all employees, regardless of gender, age, race, ethnicity, or any other protected class. This means that employers need to protect medical information for everyone equally and without prejudice. If you have more questions about who is covered under medical privacy laws, reach out to an insurance expert like Bethany.

What Are Your Rights?

Under medical privacy laws in the workplace, employees have certain rights. 

  • Employers are not allowed to ask personal medical questions or require medical examinations beyond what is necessary for the job. 
  • Employers cannot share medical information about employees with other workers or individuals outside the workplace unless it’s needed to comply with a law or provide medical care.
  • Employees and patients both have the right to protect their personal medical information and not share it. 

What Happens If an Employer Doesn’t Follow Medical Privacy Laws?

Not following privacy laws can lead to some harsh consequences. Because it involves a breach of trust and privacy when a medical provider disregards the importance of private health information, some of the consequences may include:


If the violation was caused by purposeful neglect, fines may be in excess of:

  • Minimum penalty: $12,794
  • Maximum penalty: $63,973
  • Calendar-year cap: $1,919,173

Criminal Penalties

If the violation was done intentionally, criminal penalties may be imposed. These include up to 10 years in prison for any individual who willfully and knowingly obtains or discloses protected health information.

Civil Penalties

Individuals can also bring civil suits against employers who violate these medical privacy laws. These civil penalties are in addition to any criminal charges that may be filed.

Revocation of Licenses

The Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights (OCR) can revoke licenses or impose other sanctions on organizations that don’t comply with medical privacy laws in the workplace.

What Kind of Privacy Laws Are There?

There are many federal medical privacy laws that employers must follow, including the HIPAA Privacy Rule and the HITECH Act.


The HIPAA Privacy Rule sets national standards for the protection of individually identifiable health information that is held or transmitted by a covered entity or its business associates. This rule requires covered entities to maintain the privacy and security of protected health information (PHI).


The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act was created to encourage the adoption and meaningful use of health information technology. It also outlines additional requirements related to the privacy, security, enforcement, and breach notification rules under HIPAA.

Let Bethany Insurance Help With Your Insurance Needs

Medical privacy laws in the workplace are an important part of maintaining patient confidentiality as well as employee privacy rights. Employers must be aware of their obligations when it comes to protecting medical records, and the potential consequences of failing to do so. Understanding and following these laws is essential to provide a secure working environment for both employees and employers alike.

Bethany Insurance is here to help you navigate the complex world of medical privacy laws and insurance. Contact us today to see how we can help keep you safe and protected!

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