Tag Archives: Office for Civil Rights

OCR Settles Five Investigations Under “Right of Access” Initiative

The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) announced yesterday that it has settled five investigations in its HIPAA “Rights to Access” Initiative (Initiative), which OCR had stated would be an enforcement priority for it starting in 2019. The Initiative is “to support individuals’ right to timely access to their health records at a reasonable cost under … Continue Reading

Size Doesn’t Matter for OCR Enforcement Actions

Small health care organizations may think they are under the radar of the Office for Civil Rights (OCR), but a settlement the OCR agreed to last week should disabuse small health care providers of that notion. On July 23, 2020, the OCR issued a press release outlining the terms of its settlement with Metropolitan Community … Continue Reading

COVID-19: HHS Issues FAQs on HIPAA and Telehealth to Help Providers Maintain Access to Care During the Pandemic

On March 20, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued additional guidance in the form of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on HIPAA and telehealth services to help providers furnish care during the COVID-19 pandemic. The FAQs follow and provide further information on the Notification of Enforcement Discretion issued by HHS on March 17 (Notification), … Continue Reading

Yearly Data Breach Reporting Due to OCR by February 29

Every year, we remind our readers that the HIPAA data breach notification regulations require covered entities to notify the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) of any reportable data breaches that involved fewer than 500 individuals and have not already been self-reported within 60 days following the calendar year. That means that covered entities are required … Continue Reading

Dental Practice Pays $10,000 Fine to OCR for Disclosing PHI on Social Media

Elite Dental Associates (Elite), located in Dallas, Texas has agreed to settle alleged HIPAA violations with the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) for $10,000. The OCR alleged that it received a complaint from a patient in June of 2016 that Elite had disclosed the patient’s last name and details of the patient’s health condition on … Continue Reading

For First Time Ever, Government Brings HIPAA Enforcement Action Alleging Violations of Right to Access Medical Records

On September 9, 2019, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) announced that it had settled its first ever HIPAA enforcement action arising from alleged violations of the individual right to access health information under HIPAA. OCR entered into a settlement with Bayfront Health St. Petersburg (Bayfront) in response … Continue Reading

Cottage Health Settles with OCR for $3M

We previously reported that Cottage Health, a health care entity operating several hospitals in California, settled with the State of California for $3 million in regard to a security incident that occurred in 2013. On February 7, 2019, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) issued a press release that it settled HIPAA violations in December … Continue Reading

OCR Issues Request for Information Regarding Modification of HIPAA To Promote Care Coordination and Transition to Value-Based Care

On December 14, 2018 the Department of Health & Human Services Office for Civil Rights (OCR) published a Request for Information (RFI) soliciting public input on updates to regulations promulgated under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) with the goals of removing “regulatory obstacles” and decreasing “regulatory burdens” in furtherance of the health care industry’s … Continue Reading

Advanced Care Hospitalists Settles with OCR for $500,000 for Alleged HIPAA Violations

The Office for Civil Rights has announced that it has settled with Lakeland, Florida based Advanced Care Hospitalists (ACH) for $500,000 for allegations of an impermissible disclosure of protected health information by one of its business associates. ACH provides contract internal medicine physicians to nursing homes and hospitals. According to the press release, between November … Continue Reading

Anthem Settles with OCR for $16M for 2015 Data Breach

The Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights (OCR) announced this week that it has settled the largest health care data breach for the largest enforcement fine in history. OCR settled the massive data breach Anthem suffered in 2015 for $16 million—a substantially larger fine than any others assessed by OCR for … Continue Reading

July Worst Month in 2018 for Health Care Data Breaches Reported to OCR

Data breaches continue to plague the health care industry, and July 2018 was the worst month so far this year in the number of data breaches reported to the Office for Civil Rights (OCR). Thirty-three data breaches were reported by covered entities and business associates in July, with the largest one reported by UnityPoint Health, … Continue Reading

OCR Prevails with ALJ Against MD Anderson for $4.3 Million in HIPAA Fines and Penalties

It is a rare occurrence when a health care entity challenges the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) regarding proposed fines and penalties for HIPAA violations. In my memory, it has only happened once before. On June 1, 2018, an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) granted summary judgment in favor of the OCR against The University of … Continue Reading

Paper Records Still Problematic for Health Care Providers

Data breaches continue to be an issue for health care providers, as indicated when looking at breaches reported to the Office for Civil Rights (OCR), as required by HIPAA. In the first three months of 2018, there were 77 breaches of protected health information (PHI) reported to OCR, which included more than one million patient … Continue Reading

473,807 Patient Records Compromised in January, 2018—83 Percent Caused by Hacking Incidents

The recently released Protenus Healthcare Breach Barometer report notes that in January, 2018, at least 473,807 patient records were compromised in 37 breaches reported to the Office for Civil Rights. Twelve of the reported breaches were attributable to insiders, which was 32 percent of the data breaches reported in January. Seven of those incidents were … Continue Reading

Dumpster Diving Leads to $100,000 Fine for Defunct Business Associate Due to Improper Disposal of Medical Records

On February 13, 2018, the HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR) announced a $100,000 settlement with a court-appointed receiver representing Filefax, Inc. (Filefax) arising from the 2015 discovery of medical records that contained protected health information (PHI) of over two thousand individuals in a dumpster. Filefax, a now-defunct medical records moving and storage company located … Continue Reading

Fresenius Pays OCR $3.5M for Five Separate Data Breaches Affecting a Total of 521 Individuals

In the first settlement for HIPAA violations in 2018, Fresenius Medical Care North America (Fresenius) has agreed to pay $3.5 million to the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) to settle allegations against it relating to five data breaches that occurred over a four month period in 2012. Interestingly, the five separate breaches affected the information … Continue Reading

Health Care Organizations Saw an 89% Increase in Ransomware in 2017

Our experience last year is consistent with the conclusion of a new report issued by Cryptonite in its 2017 Health Care Cyber Research Report—that the number of hacking events targeted at health care entities involving ransomware increased a whopping 89% from 2016. The report analyzed the self-reporting database of the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) … Continue Reading

OCR Warns Health Care Industry of Risks with Previous Employees

In its November newsletter, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) made a great point that we are seeing in the industry—the risks associated with previous employees. According to its newsletter, entitled “Insider Threats and Termination Procedures,” the OCR states “Data breaches caused by current and former workforce members are a recurring issue across many industries, … Continue Reading

At least 473,074 Individuals’ Health Care Records Breached in September 2017

Unfortunately, September was another banner month for data breaches involving the health care industry. According to the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) website, 39 data breaches involving over 500 records were reported to the OCR in the month of September. This does not include all records breached, as health care entities have until February 2018 … Continue Reading
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