What are HIPAAs guidelines and regulations for same day STAT deliveries?

February 17, 2023

What is HIPAA


HIPAA is an acronym that stands for the Health Insurance and Accountability Act. This act requires that all healthcare providers, and those who provide to them, handle Protected health information (PHI) safely and keep the information confidential and secure. Some items under this protection are medical documents, medical specimens, and any other personal work about a patient or healthcare provider. Because of this, any courier hired to handle such items must also be HIPAA compliant.

HIPAA Compliance


In 1996, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued the HIPAA privacy rule, implementing the requirements that the security rule will protect a subset of information, creating national standards to protect sensitive patient information. This means that healthcare providers, workers, and any involved with patient information, may not disclose the patient’s health information without consent or knowledge. In addition, the HIPAA privacy rule addresses “the use and disclosure of individuals’ health information (known as protected health information or PHI) by entities subject to the Privacy Rule. These individuals and organizations are called “covered entities.”

Covered entities include:

  • Benefit eligibility inquiries
  • Referral authorization requests
  • Claims
  • Claims processing
  • Data analysis
  • Utilization review
  • Billing
  • Other transactions for which HHS has established standards under the HIPAA Transactions Rule.
  • Health, dental, vision, and prescription drug insurers
  • Health maintenance organizations (HMOs)
  • Medicare, Medicaid, Medicare+Choice, and Medicare supplement insurers
  • Long-term care insurers (excluding nursing home fixed-indemnity policies)
  • Employer-sponsored group health plans
  • Government- and church-sponsored health plans
  • Multi-employer health plans

Why do couriers need it?


Stat medical couriers must be compliant for a couple of reasons. The most important reason being is that it is required by law. If a courier is not HIPAA compliant, the courier service and the medical delivery driver can face significant penalties from the government.

The second most important reason medical couriers need to be HIPAA compliant is that it protects the business’s liability should a PHI be lost or stolen while in transit. It is also just as important that the courier is compliant; if they are not and a break occurs, the business would be liable.

The last reason why compliance of a courier is essential is that it gives clients confidence and trust in the company. As a result, clients and patients are more likely to do business with a reliable provider in the future.

A courier can maintain HIPAA compliance by knowing the rules and regulations, implementing technical and physical safeguards, and regularly auditing and self-audit all compliance efforts.

Repercussions for non-compliance


Should a medical courier be found to not be in compliance with the rules and regulations of HIPAA, there can be civil and criminal charges brought against them and their company. In addition, damages resulting in a breach of PHI could also cause heavy fines brought on by the government.

Civil penalties are enforced by The Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil rights. If they find someone at fault for violating HIPAA, their penalty fees can range between $100 – $50,000 per violation. In addition, each violation made is processed separately and treated individually, which can add up for many companies.

Criminal penalties are violations determined to be so egregious and done willfully that they receive greater repercussions than a civil penalty. These criminal penalties can range between $50,000 and $250,000 and between 1 and 10 years of prison. These repercussions are severe, so it is crucial to ensure all medical couriers are HIPAA compliant.

What is a medical courier?


A medical courier is a trained professional delivery driver responsible for transporting items between or from medical facilities. These couriers handle the transport of medical equipment, specimens, patient charts, and more. Many items require special care and handling pertaining to temperature or stability while maintaining HIPAA compliance and regulation. Therefore, a medical courier is expected to have above-average communication and interpersonal skills, perform the tasks required safely, securely, and timely, have exceptional navigation and directional skills, stay organized and keep detailed records of deliveries under tight deadlines, and have a passion for delivering critical medical items punctually.
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What are the requirements to be a medical courier?


A medical courier has high expectations, but they must also meet many requirements before getting the job. It is required that the medical couriers’ highest level of education is a high school diploma or GED (some employers will prefer the completion of an associate’s, bachelor’s, or higher), a valid driver’s license, a clean driving record, being over the age of 21, if you are not being given a company vehicle, then a registered, inspected, and insured vehicle less than ten years old, capable of lifting packages over 20 pounds, having solid knowledge about the city you will be working in, and having basic tech skills.

Steps to handle a medical delivery

  • Handle the delivery as instructed by the medical professional
  • Follow all HIPAA guidelines and regulations.
  • Handle all deliveries with care
  • Transport in necessary conditions (vehicle size, temperature control, etc.).
  • Confirm contents of the shipment
  • Keep necessary samples separate from one another (i.e., Blood and plasma or serum).
  • DO NOT ship to residences unless their specific consent is granted.

Steps to take for medical transports:

  • Confirm shipping method (type of vehicle)
  • Clear labels of addresses/ content if necessary
  • Get insurance/ coverage/ liability.
  • Know the schedule (pick-up and delivery dates/times)
  • Fill out a chain of custody.
  • Confirm recipient, get signatures and names at pickup and drop off
  • Double-check all information, including addresses
  • Know the type of transportation necessary (temperature controlled, vehicle size, etc.)
  • Electronic medical data being transported should be done so in encryption.

Protect yourself and your business from liability and educate yourself on HIPAA compliance. Knowing HIPAA compliance basics will ensure the courier will protect your PHI while complying with the law and building trust with your business. Nobody should have to worry about whether or not a courier is HIPAA compliant. All medical courier businesses should be HIPAA compliant and trained. Take the guesswork out of choosing a medical delivery service and call us for a free quote today at (888)415-1781.