Data Privacy Monitor

Data Privacy Monitor

Commentary on Data Privacy & Information Security Subjects

Category Archives: Medical Privacy

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Malware Incident at Mental Health Nonprofit Leads to $150K Settlement with OCR

Posted in Healthcare, HIPAA/HITECH, Medical Privacy
As cyberattacks targeting the healthcare industry continue to escalate, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has published its first-ever resolution agreement stemming from an incident involving malware, highlighting the importance of reviewing systems for unpatched and unsupported software that can leave patient information susceptible to malware and other … Continue Reading

Health System Investigated for Leaving PHI in Doctor’s Driveway – Settles with OCR for $800K

Posted in Enforcement, HIPAA/HITECH, Medical Privacy, Privacy
While OCR enforcement activity has focused on a covered entity’s safeguarding of ePHI, organizations cannot forget about PHI in non-electronic form.  To settle potential violations of the HIPAA Privacy Rule, Parkview Health System, Inc. (“Parkview”), a nonprofit healthcare system providing community-based healthcare services to individuals in northeast Indiana and northwest Ohio, entered into a resolution … Continue Reading

HHS Attorney: Major HIPAA Fines and Enforcement Coming

Posted in Data Breaches, Enforcement, HIPAA/HITECH, Information Security, Medical Privacy, Privacy
As regularly blogged about on the Data Privacy Monitor, the past 12 months have seen record-breaking HIPAA enforcement activity by HHS OCR.  But according to recent remarks by a high-ranking HHS attorney, if you thought these past 12 months were significant, just wait for the next 12 months. According to Law360, Jerome B. Meites, Chief … Continue Reading

HHS OCR Settles Post-Data Breach Investigation for Record $4.8M

Posted in Data Breaches, Enforcement, HIPAA/HITECH, Medical Privacy, Privacy
On May 7, 2014, HHS OCR announced a pair of resolution agreements with New York Presbyterian Hospital (NYP) and Columbia University (CU) totaling $4.8 million dollars—the highest settlement amount to date.  These resolution agreements make it clear that organizations must be able to propose steps to analyze security risks for ePHI as specified by HIPAA … Continue Reading

Get Ready! HHS OCR Announces Next Round of HIPAA Audits

Posted in Enforcement, HIPAA/HITECH, Medical Privacy
To combat new risks associated with rapidly evolving health information technology, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH) provides standards for the privacy of protected health information (PHI), the security of electronic protected health information (ePHI), and breach notification to individuals.   HITECH … Continue Reading

OCR Settles Potential HIPAA Violations with County Government for $215,000

Posted in Breach Notification, Data Breaches, Enforcement, HIPAA/HITECH, Medical Privacy
Co-Authored by Charles K. Shih. To start 2014, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) issued its first resolution agreement of the year and its first settlement with a county government – signaling that even local and county governments, regardless of size, must safeguard the privacy and security of patient … Continue Reading

Some Things Better Left Unshared: Social Media and Medical Identity Theft

Posted in Data Breaches, HIPAA/HITECH, Identity Theft, Medical Privacy, Social Media
The Washington Post recently published an article reminding individuals not to tweet or otherwise share information concerning their medical conditions on social media, warning that disclosing such information publicly “is akin to posting your address along with the dates you’ll be away on vacation.”  Quoting Jennifer Trussell, who investigates medical identity theft on behalf of … Continue Reading

NICS and HIPAA: Where Mental Health Privacy and Gun Control Overlap; HHS Releases Notice of Proposed Rulemaking

Posted in Federal Legislation, HIPAA/HITECH, Medical Privacy
On January 7, 2014, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) for the purpose of modifying the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) to expressly permit certain HIPAA covered entities to disclose to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) the identities … Continue Reading

Court Overturns Presuit Patient Authorization Requirement Under Florida Medical Malpractice Statute

Posted in HIPAA/HITECH, Medical Privacy
On September 25, 2013, the Northern District Court of Florida, Tallahassee Division, ruled that Florida Statute § 766.1065 violated the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (“HIPAA”) by requiring a plaintiff in a medical malpractice action to deliver a presuit authorization which allows the defending medical professionals to conduct ex parte interviews of … Continue Reading

North Dakota Breach Notification Law – Personal Information Includes Health Information

Posted in Breach Notification, Data Breach Notification Laws, Data Breaches, HIPAA/HITECH, Medical Privacy, Privacy
North Dakota has amended its Notice of Security Breach for Personal Information statute, North Dakota Century Code Section 51-30 et seq., to expand the definition of  “personal information” to include “medical information” and health insurance information.”  Pursuant to the amended statute, “medical information” includes any information regarding an individual’s medical history, mental or physical condition, … Continue Reading

HHS OCR Sends Message to CEs and their BAs: Protect ePHI Accessible Over the Internet

Posted in Data Breaches, Enforcement, HIPAA/HITECH, Medical Privacy
In its third resolution agreement of 2013, the Department of Health and Human Services, Office for Civil Rights (HHS OCR) today announced a $1.7 million resolution agreement with WellPoint, Inc., a health insurer and managed care company.  The resolution agreement stems from WellPoint’s June 18, 2010 report to OCR regarding security weaknesses in an online … Continue Reading

Vermont and North Dakota Amend Breach-Notice Laws

Posted in Breach Notification, Data Breach Notification Laws, Data Breaches, Financial Privacy, HIPAA/HITECH, Medical Privacy
On May 13, 2013, Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin signed H.513 into law. The new law includes an amendment to Vermont’s Security Breach Notice Act, 9 V.S.A. § 2435. Previously, under § 2435, Vermont-regulated financial institutions were exempt from notifying any Vermont authority in case of a security breach involving personally identifiable data. The new law … Continue Reading

HIPAA, Business Associates, and the Cloud

Posted in Cloud Computing, HIPAA/HITECH, Medical Privacy
Under the Final Rule, as previously discussed, business associates must comply with the technical, administrative, and physical safeguard requirements under the Security Rule.  Liable for violations under the Security Rule, a business associate must comply with use or disclosure limitations in its contract, as well as limitations expressed in the Privacy Rule.  A business associate … Continue Reading

HHS Office of Civil Rights Hosts Webinar on Final Rule

Posted in HIPAA/HITECH, Information Security, Medical Privacy, Mobile Privacy, Online Privacy
Today, the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Civil Rights (OCR), joined with the Workgroup for Electronic Data Interchange and hosted an online seminar discussing HITECH requirements in the new Final Rule. The presentations covered many points about the Final Rule previously outlined on this blog (see here, here, and here). Rachel Seeger, … Continue Reading

HHS OCR Director Leon Rodriguez’s Dialogue on HIPAA/HITECH Compliance

Posted in Enforcement, HIPAA/HITECH, Medical Privacy
“HIPAA is a valve, not a blockage,” stated HHS OCR Director Leon Rodriguez, at the OCR/NIST 6th Annual Conference on Safeguarding Health Information:  Building Assurance through HIPAA Security.  Discussing the tension inherent in HIPAA, between patient access to patient information and an organization’s safeguarding of protected health information (PHI), Director Rodriguez characterized OCR’s HIPAA guidance … Continue Reading

What Covered Entities and Business Associates Need to Do to Prepare for the New HIPAA/HITECH Requirements (Part II)

Posted in Breach Notification, Data Breach Notification Laws, Data Breaches, Enforcement, HIPAA/HITECH, Medical Privacy, Privacy
There has been a lot of discussion about the impact of Final Omnibus Rule modifying the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) Privacy and Security Rules as well as the breach notification rules of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH).  In Part I, we discussed what HIPAA … Continue Reading

Be Prepared: Redline Version of the HIPAA/HITECH Final Rule

Posted in HIPAA/HITECH, Medical Privacy
The final rule is significant for any organization that is considered to be a HIPAA covered entity (“CE”) (health systems, health care providers, health plans, etc.) or the more broadly defined business associate (“BA”).  During our initial analysis of the final rule, we note significant changes to the way a breach is defined and we … Continue Reading

What Covered Entities and Business Associates Need to Do to Prepare for the New HIPAA/HITECH Requirements (Part I)

Posted in Breach Notification, Data Breach Notification Laws, Data Breaches, Enforcement, HIPAA/HITECH, Medical Privacy
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued, on January 17, 2013, its Final Omnibus Rule modifying the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (“HIPAA”) Privacy and Security Rules as well as the breach notification rules of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (“HITECH”).  Our initial discussion can … Continue Reading

The HIPAA/HITECH Final Rule Has Been Released

Posted in Breach Notification, Data Breach Notification Laws, Data Breaches, Enforcement, Federal Legislation, HIPAA/HITECH, Identity Theft, Medical Privacy, Privacy
The long awaited HIPAA/HITECH Final Rule is out.  The final rule is effective March 26, 2013, but covered entities (CEs) and business associates (BAs) will have 180 days beyond the effective date to come into compliance. While we are still conducting a comprehensive review of this 563-page document, below are a few of the changes we have found so far: … Continue Reading

OCR’s Breach Settlement the First Ever Involving Less than 500 Patients

Posted in Medical Privacy
OCR started 2013 with a bang by announcing that it had reached “the first settlement involving a breach of unprotected electronic protected health information (ePHI) affecting fewer than 500 individuals” with the Hospice of North Idaho (“HONI”). Under the resolution agreement, HONI has agreed to pay $50,000 and enter a two-year Corrective Action Plan to … Continue Reading