What’s the Difference Between OSHA, JCAHO and HIPAA?

Are you interested in becoming a medical office administration specialist but wonder why you learn about OSHA, JCAHO and HIPAA? We will review what OSHA, JCAHO and HIPPA are as well as some of the difference between them.

What’s the Difference Between OSHA, JCAHO, and HIPAA?

First lets start with the similarities between OSHO, JCAHO and HIPAA. They are all workplace guidelines and are meant to keep you safe from harm and to preserve confidentiality. However, that’s where the similarities end.


The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) was created in 1971 to enforce health and safety standards in the workplace. As a medical office administration specialist, these rules are both a protection and responsibility.

OSHA sets standards in the areas of evacuation routes, fire and electrical safety, blood-borne pathogens, radiation safety, staff training, injury reporting, hazard reporting, and on-site inspections.

Evacuation Routes

Medical facilities should have enough exit routes to safely accommodate the maximum number of people in the building. Evacuation routes should be located as far from each other as possible in case one becomes blocked by smoke or fire. A diagram must be posted in the lobby, with exits clearly marked.

Medical office administration specialists may help ensure evacuation routes stay clear by storing equipment properly. In a crisis, they may assist mobility challenged patients in leaving the building, so they should know where exit routes are located and where they lead.

Blood-borne Pathogens

Medical office administration specialists don’t provide hands-on care, but they work in close proximity with clinical staff to risk accidental exposure to blood-borne pathogens. Precautions include keeping used needles in a marked, puncture-proof sharps container, personal protective equipment, clean-up kits for spills and vaccinations against Hepatitis B.

The OSHA Blood-borne Pathogens Standard mandates employers have an exposure control plan, so you’ll have clear guidance on what to do to prevent illness.

Staff Training

All staff should receive OSHA training before they start work, and at least once annually. As a medical office administration specialist, you’re responsible for learning and using your judgment to avoid risks.

Injury Reporting

Employers with more than ten staff members are required to track serious work-related injuries and illnesses. If someone is hurt at work, it is important to report it promptly because it safeguards your rights and helps the practice stay in regulatory compliance.

Hazard Reporting

Medical offices store substances that are toxic, flammable, and even explosive. OSHA requires Safety Data Sheets (SDS) to help staff identify hazards and know what to do if there’s an accident involving those materials. In a fire, a medical office administration specialist may be designated to take the SDS book out of the building to help firefighters. Plus, so-called “lock-out-tag-out” procedures empower all staff to mark equipment as out of service until it’s checked.

On-site Inspections

OSHA has the authority to inspect any workplace, anytime, with no notification required. The way for medical office administration specialists to protect their employers and employees is to consistently comply with OSHA policies and procedures.


JCAHO stands for the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations. Now known only as The Joint Commission, they offer certifications and standards, plus measurement and performance improvement areas with helpful resources for healthcare professionals. A private, non-profit organization that is dedicated to improving the quality of care in healthcare settings. The Joint Commission evaluates, accredits, consults, and sets standards for many medical facilities.

The Joint Commission standards help develop strategies to address complex issues and vulnerabilities in patient care. These standards review healthcare professionals care delivery process, ensuring a comprehensive review of the patient care experience.

Although Medical Administrators don’t directly deliver care, they do help their office for visits from The Joint Commission. They may have to provide documentation and procedural information about patient visits.


HIPAA is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. It was passed in 1996 to standardize the way patients’ private health information is documented, transmitted, and protected. The law holds medical professionals, facilities, and insurers accountable.

HIPAA is not exclusively about patient privacy. Instead, HIPAA mandates that any professional with access to patient data takes steps to maintain confidentiality. Supplemental laws designate any information including patients’ names, medical histories, social security numbers, diagnosis information, and treatment plans as protected health information (PHI).

Medical Office Administrators are often involved in inputting, storing, and working with confidential medical information. The digitization of medical records has made medical billing a uniform practice but has also created ways in which patient information can be compromised. Rules are established by the US Department of Health and Human Services and cover broad areas including personal information security, HIPAA policies and procedures, staff training, and data & password access.

Personal Information Security

Medical facilities must ensure records with personal identifiers, such as name, address, date of birth, and social security number are safeguarded to prevent unauthorized access. Data stored electronically must be password protected and paper documents must be held in locked filing cabinets or rooms.

HIPAA Policies and Procedures

All facilities must have written policies and procedures detailing how private health information is stored, accessed, and shared. Offices must designate a HIPPA Privacy Officer to handle inquiries and complaints. This officer is often a member of the Medical Office Administrative staff.

Staff Training

Staff must complete HIPAA training before starting and must retake the training at least once annually. Training must include information on HIPPA laws and specific policies and procedures. Vocational schools teach students the basics, while employers fill in the gaps with workplace-based education.

Data & Password Access

Private health information is only accessible to authorized personnel who need it to provide patient care or assist with billing. Any other access is strictly prohibited and a matter of trust between doctors and clients. Exceptions include law enforcement officers who may obtain information with a warrant or subpoena, and mandatory reporting of child or elder abuse.

How do You Become a Medical Office Administration Specialist?

The most succinct way to become a medical office administration specialist and learn about OSHA, JCAHO and HIPAA is to attend a vocational school program. Vocational schools offer small class sizes and one-on-one attention for students to become medical office administration specialists.

What Else Do You Learn During a Medical Office Administration Program?

We’ll train you on a wide range of medical administrative practices and processes. Our medical office administration training program includes:

  • Medical Billing and Coding
  • Customer Relations
  • Greeting Patients
  • Appointment Scheduling
  • 135-hour School Externship
  • CMAA & CEHRS Certification

Final Thoughts

Now that you know more about OSHA, JCAHO and HIPAA, it is time to learn about Interactive College of Technology’s Medical Office Administration program. As a medical office administration specialist, you get to help others improve quality of care, while you secure a rewarding career in the process. It’s a win-win.

Want to Learn More?

All healthcare facilities, from hospitals and physician’s offices, to rehab centers, clinics, and every other type of medical practice, rely on skilled Medical Office Administration program to function. We’ll train you on a wide range of medical administrative practices and processes. Plus, you’ll get real-world experience through a 135-hour school externship in an actual healthcare facility. You’ll also interact with people from all walks of life, making your daily routine anything but dull.

So, let’s take the first step together! Contact us now to learn more.

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