Health Information Management

BA agreements: Prevent problems and eliminate loopholes

Briefings on HIPAA, January 1, 2009

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If you aren’t careful, your business associate (BA) agreements can become so filled with confusing legalese that they become virtually unenforceable by frontline staff members who attempt to abide by the terms.

Contracts should be detailed, but also simple enough so all parties can understand them.

“With very, very rare exceptions for a few esoteric legal items—like indemnification provisions—contract language, to be legal, has to be something a person of reasonable intelligence and education can understand, not just something for lawyers,” says John R. Christiansen, JD, managing director at Christiansen IT Law in Seattle.

William H. Roach Jr., MS, JD, partner at McDermott Will & Emery in Chicago, says simpler language is better and usually results in both sides holding up an equal share of the bargain.

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