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Letters: HIPAA concerns

April 04, 2016 After reading the most recent letter and article regarding the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act settlement with the University of Washington, ("HIPAA Settlement," Letters, Feb. 15 ADA News and "University of Washington to Pay $750,000 HIPAA Settlement," Jan. 4 ADA News), I am becoming increasingly puzzled and agitated over what the government expects of us and our offices when it comes to the issues of patient privacy issues.

I, like many other health care professionals across the country, have spent a great deal of time and money making sure my patients records and emails related to their treatment are secure and meet HIPAA requirements.

As we all know, there are always going to be gray areas where strict privacy will never be possible — just think of all of our reception rooms, hallways and parking areas where patients and staff mingle and talk all the time.

What I find interesting and most concerning is the fact that the U.S. Postal Service is not held to these same HIPAA standards. Every day, thousands of letters are delivered to the wrong address where anyone can open them. Just think of all the mailings from health care offices, hospitals and insurance companies that are delivered to the wrong address and the information contained within.

Who is responsible for these breaches in confidentiality? Every week I receive mail improperly delivered.

I just find this whole issue so unfair and unreasonable. The government will fine all of us if we fail in this privacy issue but will overlook the 800-pound gorilla that is the U.S. Postal Service.

Jon Williams, Jr., D.D.S.
Alexandria, Virginia