Tag Archives: Office for Civil Rights

OCR Issues Reminder on Security Incidents

Following the frequent and varied ransomware attacks on health care entities over the past few years, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) published guidance last summer to the health care industry reminding it that a ransomware attack could be a reportable breach under the HIPAA Breach Notification Rule. Despite the fact that many health care … Continue Reading

OCR Settles With Texas Health System for $2.4 Million for Disclosing PHI to Media In a Press Release

The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) issued a press release today announcing that it has settled alleged HIPAA violations with Memorial Hermann Health System (MHHS) for $2.4 million. According to the Resolution Agreement it has inked with the OCR, MHHS must also implement a corrective action plan, including updating its policies and procedures, training staff … Continue Reading

The Center for Children’s Digestive Health Settles with OCR for $31,000

The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has announced that it entered into a settlement with The Center for Children’s Digestive Health (CCDH) for $31,000.  CCDH is a small for-profit health care provider with seven locations in Illinois. The settlement arose out of an OCR compliance review initiated in August 2015 after an investigation of a … Continue Reading

OCR Levies Hefty Fine Against FQHC

Showing no signs of letting up on enforcement actions, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) late last week settled an investigation against Metro Community Provider Network MCPN, a Colorado based federally qualified health center, for alleged HIPAA violations. The fine, a whopping $400,000 for the center, which provides health care services to low income patients, … Continue Reading

ABCD Pediatrics Victim of Ransomware

ABCD Pediatrics, located in San Antonio, Texas has notified the Office for Civil Rights that a ransomware cyber intrusion has resulted in access to its servers, including the protected health information (PHI) of its patients. The ransomware used by the attackers was Dharma. The practice found through forensic analysis that access had been gained to … Continue Reading

OCR Urges Covered Entities and Business Associates to Use HTTPS

New guidance from the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) urges covered entities and business associates to use Secure Hypertext Transport Protocol (HTTPS) to protect communications from vulnerabilities. According to OCR, the vulnerability can be introduced by the use of products that inspect HTTPS traffic. These products are used to detect malware or unsafe connections, which … Continue Reading

Horizon BCBS of New Jersey Pays State $1.1 million for HIPAA violations

We often forget that state AG’s have jurisdiction under the HIPAA Omnibus Rule to levy fines and penalties against HIPAA covered entities for violations. This is because the Office for Civil Rights has traditionally taken the primary role in enforcing HIPAA. But Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey (Horizon) was reminded of the … Continue Reading

$5.5 Million Shelled Out to OCR for Alleged HIPAA Violations

Florida Memorial Healthcare Systems has agreed to pay the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) $5.5 million to settle alleged HIPAA violations relating to an incident that occurred in April 2012 that two employees accessed patient information of 106,000 patients in an unauthorized manner and with criminal intent, including their names, dates of birth, and Social … Continue Reading

Report Summarizes Healthcare Data Breaches in January 2017

Health care data breaches are not slowing. According to a report issued by Protenus, in conjunction with www.databreaches.net, the summary of healthcare data breaches in 2017 continues where 2016 left off. In January 2017, there were 31 data breaches reported to the Office for Civil Rights. The breaches resulted in the compromise of 388,307 patient … Continue Reading

Three-Month Delay Means Health Network Must Pay

A delay in reporting a HIPAA violation can result in a significant monetary penalty. That was the message sent by the Office for Civil Rights (OCR), which recently announced the first HIPAA settlement based on the untimely reporting of a breach of unsecured protected health information (PHI). According to the OCR, Presence Health (a large … Continue Reading

Top Ten Education Developments, Breaches, and Settlements of 2016

This year has been a busy year for education law in the area of data privacy. Educational institutions continue to be a rich target for hackers. Additionally, there were some important developments in the interpretation of Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) as it applies to educational … Continue Reading

OCR Alerts Listservs About Fake Phishing Email to Covered Entities and Business Associates

On November 28, 2016, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) issued an Alert to its listservs that a phishing email is being circulated on “mock HHS Departmental letterhead under the signature of OCR”s Director, Jocelyn Samuels” to employees of HIPAA covered entities and business associates. The email looks official and tells the recipient that it … Continue Reading

UMass Amherst Settles HIPAA Violations with OCR for $650,000

The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has announced that the University of Massachusetts Amherst (UMass) has agreed to settle an investigation against it as a result of a malware infection for $650,000, along with implementing a Corrective Action Plan. Although $650,000 is a hefty sum for the allegations, the OCR in its announcement said it … Continue Reading

OCR Stresses Importance of Authentication in Newsletter

In a recent newsletter, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) encourages health care organizations to review their procedures around authentication and “ensure that they have the appropriate safeguards in place.” The Newsletter, entitled What Type of Authentication is Right for You? states that “[O]ver the past years, the healthcare sector has been one of the … Continue Reading

Confusing Joint Guidance published by OCR and FTC on HIPAA Authorization Forms

There are arguments that there is a dearth of guidance by both the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC), so when guidance comes out, we listen. But the most recent guidance jointly issued by the OCR and the FTC is rather confusing. The guidance titled “Sharing Consumer Health Information? Look to … Continue Reading

University of Mississippi Medical Center settles HIPAA violations for $2.75M

The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has obtained another big settlement from a covered entity resulting from a data breach. This most recent settlement of fines and penalties and a Resolution Agreement is with the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) for $2.75 million. The OCR commenced an investigation against UMMC after UMMC self-reported a … Continue Reading

Oregon Health & Science University pays $2.7M penalty for data breaches

Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) has agreed to settle alleged HIPAA violations involving two separate data breaches with the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) for $2.7 million. In the span of three months in 2013, OHSU experienced two reportable data breaches, which triggered investigations by the OCR. The first occurred when an unencrypted laptop … Continue Reading

Physical security still an issue: Pruitt Health suffers breach in break-in

The importance of physical security and the risk associated with the unauthorized access to or loss of paper records is clear from recent experiences of Pruitt Health in South Carolina. On March 2, 2016, an intruder broke the front door glass of one of its home health locations and had access to paper medical records … Continue Reading

OCR levies first fine ever directly against business associate

Our predictions that the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) will become more aggressive with audits, investigations, and fines against HIPAA business associates has come true. On June 24, 2016, the OCR announced that it has settled an investigation with Catholic Health Services of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia (CHCS), stemming from CHCS’ capacity as a HIPAA … Continue Reading

Illinois data breach law amended and includes new twists

Governor Bruce Rauner signed several new provisions into law amending Illinois’ Personal Information Privacy Act, including health insurance and medical information into the definition of personal information that triggers notification in the event of a breach. Health insurance information under the law includes an individual’s health insurance policy number or subscriber identification number as well … Continue Reading
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