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Employee Whistleblowers: Ensuring Secure Communication in Healthcare

Updated: Jun 18

As we navigate through 2024, there's an emerging threat that healthcare organizations must be vigilant about employee whistleblowers. The implications of non-compliance with security and regulatory standards can be severe, not just from external audits but from within the organization itself.


 

The Whistleblower Risk


When an employee reports the use of unsecured technology and the organization fails to take corrective action, or when employees ignore compliance directives from corporate, the organization exposes itself to potential civil lawsuits. This risk is exacerbated if the whistleblower faces retaliation or termination. In such cases, wrongful termination lawsuits can ensue, with claims typically ranging from $50,000 to $100,000, not to mention the substantial time and cost associated with legal proceedings.


Compliance Standards and Legal Risks


It's crucial to remind healthcare professionals and organizations to adhere to the compliance standards outlined in the Omnibus Rule and the HITECH Act. Non-compliance not only risks government reporting and subsequent audits but can also result in state surveys leading to costly and dangerous F-Tags or Immediate Jeopardy (IJ) tags.


Action Steps for Organizations


  • Education and Training: Regularly educate your staff on compliance standards and the importance of secure technology.

  • Proactive Measures: Address any reported issues promptly and thoroughly to mitigate risks.

  • Support for Whistleblowers: Foster an environment where employees feel safe to report concerns without fear of retaliation.


By staying vigilant and proactive, healthcare organizations can protect themselves from the financial and reputational damage that can arise from whistleblower actions and compliance breaches.


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secure communication

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