Health Care Providers Protected Health Information

News & Analysis as of

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”...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 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.”...more

Critical Cyber-Attack on Hospitals Now A Reality- A View From ‘Across the Pond’

Serious trouble for all health and care providers looms large. High risk women in labour and major trauma cases are being diverted to other hospitals after a cyber-attack recently shut down services at a hospital in the...more

HIPAA Audits – Phase 2: On-Site Audits Scheduled for First Quarter of 2017

Covered Entities and Business Associates may be ringing in the New Year with the prospect of responding to on-site HIPAA audits by federal regulators. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights...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

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...more

Clouding the Issue: Impact of Cloud-Based Software Service Providers on HIPAA Covered Entities and Business Associates

The message from patients to healthcare providers is clear: increase the quality of health services while decreasing cost.  The message from the federal government to healthcare providers and their business associates is even...more

Malware Attacks Against Healthcare Sector Rose 67 percent in Q3 of 2016

The NTT Security Q3 Quarterly Threat Intelligence Report states that the healthcare industry is the fifth most targeted industry for ransomware (behind financial services, retail, manufacturing and technology) for all cyber...more

Recent CyberSecurity Incidents Emphasize Importance of Cyberinsurance

As the threat of cyberattacks continues to pose daily threats to businesses large and small, more companies have turned to cyber insurance products to shore up protection against these disruptive threats. A spate of recent...more

Health Care System’s HIPAA Security Risk Results in $2.14 Million Fine

On October 18, 2016, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Office for Civil Rights (OCR), announced that St. Joseph Health (SJH) agreed to settle allegations relating to the HIPAA Privacy and Security Rules,...more

St. Joseph Health Settles with OCR for $2.14 Million

The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has announced that it has entered into a settlement with St. Joseph Health, which operates hospitals and nursing homes in California, Texas and New Mexico, for $2.14 million for alleged HIPAA...more

Don't Post That! Protecting Patient Privacy in the Age of Social Media

Social media has great utility for urgent care centers, providing invaluable opportunities to connect with the local community, and offering a host of educational tools for providers and patients. The explosion of myriad...more

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,...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

CryptoWall Ransomware Hits New Jersey Spine Center

The New Jersey Spine Center was hit with a variant of CryptoWall ransomware on July 27, 2016 that encrypted its electronic health record and its backup files. A double whammy....more

Best Practices for Safeguarding Protected Health Information in Inclement Weather

As the East Coast prepares for the arrival of Hurricane Matthew, covered entities and business associates should take the opportunity to remind their workforce members to safeguard protected health information (PHI) that is...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

Yuba Sutter Medical Center Hit With Ransomware

Yuba Sutter Medical Center in California (Yuba Sutter) has notified its patients that it has suffered a recent ransomware attack that caused parts of its network to be incapacitated. As a result, patient files were unable to...more

Health Care E-Note - September 2016

In an article published in the September 2016 MASA Newsletter, Jim Hoover and Angie Cameron Smith discuss how physicians should properly respond to subpoenas and requests for patients’ health information. They stress how...more

Physicians Must Be Cautious When Responding To A Subpoena or Request for Medical Records

Doctors must educate themselves and particularly their staff on the legal obligations to protect the confidentiality of medical records and how to properly respond to subpoenas and requests for patients’ health information....more

September Privacy and Security Updates

Although National Cyber Security Month isn’t until October, September has brought plenty of privacy and security updates that health care companies need to be aware of. In this post, we review guidance from the Office for...more

Information From 700+ Patients Stolen from LAC+USC Medical Center

Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center (LAC+USC) has notified patients that the protected health information of over 700 patients seen in the LAC+USC neurosurgery clinic was stolen from an employee’s car. The information,...more

MedStar Health Cardiology Associates Employee Emails Patient Information to Personal Account and Gets Fired

MedStar Health Cardiology Associates, (“MedStar Cardiology”) affiliated with MedStar Health, which was recently in the news for a ransomware attack, discovered that an employee sent protected health information of 907...more

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