Health Law Blog: HIPAA Update: Don't Forget Your Photocopiers

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Affinity Health Plan has agreed to pay more than $1.2 million to settle potential violations of the HIPAA Privacy and Security Regulations. The alleged violations related to a photocopier previously leased by Affinity which was later returned by Affinity and purchased from the leasing company by CBS News. The photocopier had been returned by Affinity to the leasing company without erasing the data on the copier hard drives. CBS News purchased the copier, informed Affinity that it contained confidential medical information, and Affinity filed a HIPAA breach report with the HHS Office of Civil Rights. OCR’s announcement of the settlement also indicated that Affinity failed to analyze risks presented by the photocopier hard drives in its security risk analysis.

Yesterday’s settlement announcement is another reminder to covered entities to make sure they have an annual security risk analysis that is comprehensive in nature and thoroughly reviews where electronic protected health information is maintained and stored, assesses potential vulnerabilities and risks, and outlines measures the covered entity is taking to address the identified risks. In addition, covered entities can obtain more information on safeguarding data stored in digital copier hard drives at http://business.ftc.gov/documents/bus43-copier-data-security and http://csrc.nist.gov/publications/drafts/800-88-rev1/sp800_88_r1_draft.pdf.