Accepting Money for Information
The director of the HIM department serves as the system manager for the department’s system used to assign codes to patient accounts. The system downloads patient-identifiable demographics to facilitate the use of the database for facility reporting to analyze physician practice patterns, patient outcomes, and facility utilization. The HIM director’s department budget has been cut again this year by 10 percent. The transcription equipment is in need of constant repair, and the fax machine jams on a regular basis.
An entrepreneur starting a service to provide home dialysis visits to patients is trying to decide if there is enough business out there to support his new business venture idea. He also needs to know which patients and which physicians treat patients with this condition. He offers the HIM director a good sum of money for a download listing of information on patients with applicable diagnosis types. The money could be used to replace the fax machine and pay for a regular service contract. The business is for a good cause, and the department could really use the money.
1) Is it acceptable for the HIM director to accept the offer from the new business entrepreneur?
2) Would anyone be harmed?
3) Would this violate any HIPAA standard, and, if so, what would the penalty be for this violation?