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F-Tag 164 Privacy & Confidentiality for messaging

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On June 2nd, 2014 it was reported that the first deficiency around an unsecured text message in the long-term care market was issued.  North Carolina's Division of Health Services Regulation (survey & certification) issued a notice to all facilities of a recent survey citation centered around F tag 164 - Patient Privacy.

As CEO for Mediprocity, over the years I’ve found that many in healthcare do not see the need or believe there will ever be an infraction handed out over text messaging.  Others adopt a "do not text" policy which is hardly a policy under the weight of $10 million in fines handed out in the 2nd quarter in 2014.  If you take a look at all the fines in Q2 2014, the underlying theme is they didn't have a policy and procedure in place.  And perhaps more importantly, a “no text” policy isn’t a solution for your staff!

As pointed out in the very informative article written by Rod Baird, "LTC Compliance Alert - Text Messages and PHI Do Not Mix!  Is There a Solution?", the state of North Carolina has made it very clear.  If a LTC facility is caught without a policy in place and/or using unsecured text a deficiency F tag 164 will be issued. 

Another area of concern is civil monetary penalties (CMP) which are fines attached to Federal tags.  And if F-164 is now being recognized and enforced in North Carolina, how long until other states begin to follow suit?

If your facility has not yet set up a policy and procedure to protect your communication, improve your workflow, and retain and transfer resident records properly; you are at risk.

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