Business Associate Agreement Violations

As businesses continue to interact with each other, they rely on various tools and services that collect and process sensitive data. This is why businesses need to sign a Business Associate Agreement (BAA) with their partners, vendors, and service providers. BAA is a legal document that outlines the responsibilities, obligations, and restrictions of a business when handling protected health information (PHI) of their clients or customers.

A BAA violation occurs when a business fails to comply with the terms of the agreement, which can be damaging to both parties. Here are some violations that businesses must avoid to maintain the trust and privacy of their clients and customers:

1. Failure to put a BAA in place

One of the most common violations is not having a BAA at all. Covered Entities (CEs) are responsible for making sure that all vendors and partners who handle PHI sign a BAA before any transfer or access to sensitive data takes place.

2. Sharing PHI with unauthorized parties

A BAA specifies who has access to PHI and how it can be shared. Businesses that share PHI with unauthorized personnel can face legal actions and financial penalties.

3. Improper disposal of PHI

Businesses that dispose of PHI must do so securely to ensure that the information remains confidential. Burning, shredding, or encrypting files are some of the ways businesses can dispose of PHI safely.

4. Failure to report breaches

If a breach occurs, businesses must notify both their clients and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) within 60 days. Failure to do so can result in significant penalties.

5. Use of PHI for marketing purposes

A BAA prohibits the use of PHI for marketing purposes without obtaining proper authorization from the client. Businesses must ensure that they have explicit consent before using PHI for marketing purposes.

6. Failure to provide access to PHI

Businesses must provide access to clients who request to see their PHI. Not doing so can result in penalties and legal action.

Business Associate Agreements are essential for protecting the privacy and security of PHI. Businesses must understand their responsibilities and obligations when handling sensitive data to avoid violations and legal action. By following the terms of the BAA, businesses can protect the trust and privacy of their clients and customers.