Tag Archives: PHI

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

Quest Diagnostics Reports Data Breach Affecting 11.9M Patients in Securities Filing

Another day in the healthc are industry, another big data breach. This week, Quest Diagnostics announced in a security filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, that a collection agency vendor that it uses for collection services notified it that for eight months, an unauthorized user had access to Quest patients’ records, including credit card … Continue Reading

Diagnostic Medical Imaging Company Pays $3 Million to Resolve Potential HIPAA Violations Stemming from Data Breach

The Office of Civil Rights (OCR), the enforcement arm of the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS), announced that a Tennessee diagnostic medical imaging services company has agreed to pay $3 million to settle potential HIPAA violations arising from a data breach that exposed over 300,000 patients’ protected health information. As part of the … Continue Reading

Texas Health System MD Anderson Seeks 5th Circuit Review of HHS Determination that HIPAA Required Encryption of its ePHI

On April 8, 2019, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center (MDA) filed a petition with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit seeking review of a decision by the Department of Health & Human Services’s (HHS) Departmental Appeals Board (DAB) Appellate Division to uphold $4.35 million in civil money penalties (CMPs) … 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

OCR Issues Guidance on Disposing Electronic Data and Media

In its July newsletter on cybersecurity, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) released “Guidance on Disposing of Electronic Devices and Media,” which outlines the requirements health care providers and business associates have regarding the security of electronic data and media under the HIPAA Security Rule. The newsletter reminds health care providers and business associates that … Continue Reading

Health Care Industry Continues to Fight Cyber-Attacks at Alarming Rate—Health Care Data Breaches Cost Average of $408 Per Record

It is clear that the health care industry continues to be targeted with cyber-attacks. In 2018, the 10 largest health care breaches, outlined here, include unauthorized access to protected health information (PHI) through a vendor offering claims processing, ransomware incidents, successful phishing schemes, mailing PHI to wrong addressees, hacking, a misdirected email, and a lost … Continue Reading

Verizon Protected Health Information Data Breach Report Concludes that Insiders Are Greatest Threat to Health Care Entities

Verizon recently issued its Protected Health Information (PHI) Data Breach Report, which is always an interesting read. Not surprisingly, Verizon’s report concludes that based upon analysis of 1,360 security incidents involving the health care sector, 58 percent of the incidents were caused by insiders and 42 percent were caused by external threats. Insider threats can … 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

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

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

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

Cardiology Group Hard Drive Stolen

Denton Heart Group, located throughout Dallas, has notified 21,665 patients that their protected health information has been compromised as a result of the theft of a hard drive from a locked closet. The hard drive that was in the closet contained the group’s backup data from the practice’s electronic health system—which included apparently of all … Continue Reading

Vanderbilt University Medical Center PHI Breached by Patient Transporters

Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) has announced that it will be sending breach notification letters to over 3,000 patients as a result of unauthorized access to PHI by two patient transporters. According to the announcement, VUMC audited its medical records (as it is required to do by  HIPAA), and found that two individuals who worked … 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

ONC and OCR Issue Joint Fact Sheet on Use of PHI for Public Health Activities

Whenever fact sheets or other guidance is issued by either the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) or the Office for Civil Rights (OCR), it helps gain insight into the thinking of the regulators so we watch it closely. But when the ONC and OCR issues joint guidance, it is hitting … Continue Reading

Three Former Warner Chilcott District Managers Prosecuted for HIPAA Violations

The United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts recently announced that three former district managers of the pharmaceutical firm Warner Chilcott have been sentenced for violating the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and committing healthcare fraud. The allegations include that the district managers directed certain sales representatives to fill out prior … Continue Reading

Central Ohio Urology Group Notifies 300,000 Patients of Breach

Approximately 300,000 patients of Central Ohio Urology Group have been notified that their protected health information has been stolen and posted online. Although the actual date of the hacking has not been released, the records were posted online on August 2, 1016. The stolen data posted online included names, addresses, telephone numbers, email addresses, dates … Continue Reading

OCR Releases HIPAA Guidance on Cloud Computing

On October 6, 2016, the Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights (OCR) released HIPAA guidance on cloud computing (Guidance). The Guidance is intended to help covered entities and business associates understand their HIPAA obligations in cloud computing arrangements, and clarify the HIPAA obligations of cloud service providers (CSPs). The Guidance notes … Continue Reading

OCR issues audit protocol and targets over 800 entities—business associates too

The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has issued its revamped audit protocol for its second phase of auditing covered entities and business associates’ compliance with the HIPAA Privacy, Security and Breach Notification Rules. The lengthy audit protocol is posted on the OCR website. It provides general instructions, and then cites each statutory section of the … Continue Reading
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