Data Security Office of Civil Rights

News & Analysis as of

HIPAA Enforcement Update (October 2016 – January 2017)

Since October 2016, the Department of Health and Human Services, Office for Civil Rights (OCR) announced four settlement agreements to resolve allegations of Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)...more

HIPAA Small Breach Notification Due March 1: “In Like a Lion, Out Like a Lamb” if You Submit Timely

March 1, 2017 is the date by which HIPAA covered entities must notify the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights (OCR) of “small” breaches of unsecured protected health information that were...more

Heighten Importance for March 1, 2017 HIPAA Small Breach Reporting Deadline

With OCR’s recent announcement of its first enforcement action for lack of timely breach notification and its increased focus on small breaches, the upcoming annual reporting deadline for small breaches takes on increased...more

Recent HIPAA Enforcement Actions

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office for Civil Rights (OCR) recently announced the first ever settlement related to a Covered Entity’s untimely breach notification in violation of HIPAA. Presence Health,...more

HHS Gets Agressive: HIPAA Audits from 2016

HHS has become more aggressive with audits, and with increased penalties, covered entities and business associates simply cannot afford an audit on HIPAA rules and regulations. In March of 2016, HHS's Office for Civil Rights...more

The Price of PHI – A $2.2 Million USB Drive

A stolen unencrypted USB drive led to a $2.2 million settlement and a Resolution Agreement. The Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights (OCR) announced on January 18th a settlement with MAPFRE Life...more

Time Waits for No One: OCR Announces First HIPAA Settlement for Lack of Timely Breach Notification

On Jan. 9, 2017, the Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights (“OCR”) announced the first HIPAA enforcement action for failure to timely report a breach. Often investigating and making formal...more

Breach of Privacy Prompts Breach of Etiquette: DHHS Sets New Precedent in Privacy Breach Enforcement

On January 9, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) took action against a health system for non-timely reporting of a breach of protected health information. It was the first...more

Ransomware – A Significant Cybersecurity Concern

Over the past year, no information security threat has demanded more media and corporate attention than ransomware. The evolution of this threat from an ineffective nuisance to a sophisticated business model generating...more

HHS OCR Levies Significant HIPAA Penalties in a Series of Recent Settlements: Covered Entities and Business Associates Alike...

Between June and November 2016, the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Civil Rights (HHS OCR) has announced seven high-dollar settlements to resolve alleged violations of the HIPAA privacy, security, and breach...more

Beware of Phishing Email Disguised as Official OCR Audit Communication

The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has posted an alert (and a follow-up alert) warning health plans, health care providers, and their vendors of a mock communication...more

OCR Guidance Underscores Importance of Authentication under HIPAA

In its tenth OCR Cyber Awareness Newsletter of the year (Newsletter), the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) reminded HIPAA-covered entities and business associates of the importance of selecting an appropriate authentication...more

Cloud Service Providers Beware, You May Be Subject to HIPAA Without Knowing It

The use of cloud service providers has exploded in the past several years. According to estimates from Gartner, the market for cloud services is expected to reach $204 billion in 2016. But the use of cloud service providers...more

HHS Designates Cloud Service Providers as Business Associates Under HIPAA

Cloud service providers that process electronic protected health information (ePHI) are business associates under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), even if the PHI is encrypted and the...more

HHS Publishes New Guidance on HIPAA and Cloud Computing

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has issued a new guidance regarding HIPAA compliance and the use of cloud computing solutions. The guidance is intended to assist covered entities...more

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...more

Small-Breach Focus Shows Growing Scope Of HIPAA Probes

Flexing yet more enforcement muscle under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, on Aug. 18, 2016, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights announced that it will more widely...more

Business Associates Beware! OCR Means Business

In June 2016, OCR entered into its first settlement agreement with a business associate, Catholic Health Care Services of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia (“CHCS”), for potential violations of the HIPAA Laws by failing to...more

OCR Sets Sights on Smaller HIPAA Breaches

Covered entities and business associates can expect increased scrutiny for breaches of unsecured protected health information affecting fewer than 500 individuals. Starting August 2016, the U.S. Department of Health and Human...more

Now is a Good Time to Review Your HIPAA Policies

The HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has announced it is increasing its investigations of breaches of unsecured protected health information (PHI) affecting fewer than 500 individuals. As a reminder, the HIPAA Breach...more

$2.75 Million OCR Settlement Underscores the Importance of Risk Management and Analysis

How the theft of a single password-protected laptop turned into an enterprise-wide review of an organization’s data protection practices. Following the announcement of a recent settlement between the U.S. Department of...more

Record-Breaking HIPAA Settlement Sends Strong Message to Covered Entities

This month marked the largest HIPAA settlement to-date for a single entity. Advocate Health Care Network (“Advocate”) agreed to pay $5.5 million and adopt a corrective action plan after an investigation by the Department of...more

Largest HIPAA Settlement Announced Against A Single Entity: $5.55 Million

On August, 4, 2016, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office for Civil Rights (OCR) announced that Advocate Health Care Network (Advocate) agreed to pay a settlement amount of $5.55 million and adopt a...more

University of Mississippi to Pay $2.75 Million for Alleged HIPAA Violations

On July 21, 2016, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced a settlement with the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC), stemming from a 2013 breach of...more

HIPAA News: HHS Getting Tough On ePHI Data Breaches

On August 4, 2016, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Civil Rights (OCR) announced a record-setting settlement with Advocate Health Care Network (Advocate) for multiple potential violations of HIPAA...more

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