NRPM: Standards for Privacy of Individually Identifiable Health Information. e. Sanctions. (§ 164.518(e))

11/03/1999

In proposed § 164.518(e), we would require all covered entities to develop and apply when appropriate sanctions for failure to comply with policies or procedures of the covered entity or with the requirements of this proposed rule. All members of the workforce who have regular contact with protected health information should be subject to sanctions, as would the entity’s business partners. Covered entities would be required to develop and impose sanctions appropriate to the nature of the issue. The type of sanction applied would vary depending on factors such as the severity of the violation, whether the violation was intentional or unintentional, and whether the violation indicates a pattern or practice of improper use or disclosure of protected health information. Sanctions could range from a warning to termination.

We considered specifying particular sanctions for particular kinds of violations of privacy policy, but rejected this approach for several reasons. First, the appropriate sanction would vary with the entity’s particular policies. Because we cannot anticipate every kind of privacy policy in advance, we cannot predict the response that would be appropriate when that policy is violated. In addition, it is important to allow covered entities to develop the sanctions policies appropriate to their business and operations.

We expect that sanctions would be more formally described and consistently carried out in larger, more sophisticated entities. Smaller, less sophisticated entities would be given more latitude and flexibility. For such smaller entities and less sophisticated entities, we would not expect a prescribed sanctions policy, but would expect that actions be taken if repeated instances of violations occur.