Dept. of Health and Human Services Office of Civil Rights

The United States Department of Health and Human Services is a federal executive department established in 1953, as part of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare. The Agency became independent in 1980... more +
The United States Department of Health and Human Services is a federal executive department established in 1953, as part of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare. The Agency became independent in 1980 and was renamed The Department of Health and Human Services at that time. HHS is charged with protecting and improving the health of the American population, as well as providing essential services.    less -
News & Analysis as of

OCR to Focus More Investigative Resources on Smaller HIPAA Breaches with Less Than 500 Individuals Affected

The Department of Health & Human Services (DHHS) Office of Civil Rights (OCR) recently announced it will devote more resources to investigate smaller HIPAA breaches. Before this announcement, OCR typically opened...more

OCR to Investigate More HIPAA Breaches Affecting Fewer Than 500 Individuals

On August 18, 2016, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”), Office for Civil Rights (“OCR”) announced plans to expand its investigations of reported breaches of the Health Insurance Portability and...more

HIPAA Security Rule Compliance for Providers & Business Associates in Three Easy Steps

On August 4, 2016, the Office for Civil Rights (“OCR”) of the U.S. Health & Human Services Department (“HHS”) announced a $5.55 million HIPAA settlement with Advocate Health Care Network (“Advocate”), the largest...more

HIPAA Phase 2 Audits: What Has OCR Requested from Auditees to Date?

In our April 8, 2016, advisory, we discussed the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of Civil Rights (OCR) “Phase 2” audit program. Then, we could only make educated guesses about what documents OCR...more

A Closer Look at the OCR’s Guidance on Ransomware

In the wake of several high-profile ransomware infections targeting hospitals and health care organizations, the Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has issued guidance on the growing threat...more

OCR Plans to More Widely Investigate HIPAA Breaches Affecting Fewer than 500 Individuals

This month the HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has launched an initiative “to more widely investigate the root causes” of HIPAA breaches affecting fewer than 500 individuals, according to an August 18, 2016 OCR email...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

OCR to Increase Efforts to Investigate Breaches Affecting Fewer Than 500 Individuals

The Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights (OCR) is the federal agency tasked with investigating data breaches involving protected health information (PHI) under the Health Insurance Portability and...more

OCR to Increase Investigations of Smaller HIPAA Breaches

HHS Office for Civil Rights will cast a wider net and increase its investigations into smaller HIPAA privacy breaches starting this month. OCR announced a new initiative to increase its efforts examining breaches that affect...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

Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act Requires Healthcare Providers to Take Certain Steps in 2016 to Promote Equity

Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act aims to advance healthcare equity. This statutory provision provides that current non-discrimination laws, such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964, will now apply to individuals and...more

It’s Not the Olympics, but OCR Sets New HIPAA Settlement Records

Athletes at the Rio Olympics aren’t the only ones setting records this year. Hoping to send a “strong message” about the importance of safeguarding electronic protected health information (PHI) and conducting mandated risk...more

Blog: Advocate Data Breaches Result in Largest HIPAA Settlement To Date

On August 8th, 2016, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Civil Rights (OCR) issued the largest Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) settlement to date with Advocate Health...more

Illinois’ Largest Health System Agrees to Stringent HIPAA Breach Settlement

The Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights (OCR) announced on August 4, 2016, a settlement agreement with Advocate Health Care Network, an integrated healthcare system with ten hospitals and a...more

HIPAA Hat Trick: Security Violations Lead to Three Major Settlements

Look no further than the last three weeks for proof that HIPAA enforcement is on the rise. Failure to maintain the security of information systems containing patient information has cost healthcare providers over $10...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

Largest Health & Human Services HIPAA Settlement Wake-Up Call for Covered Entities to Evaluate and Mitigate Risks

On Thursday, August 4, 2016, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Office of Civil Rights (OCR) announced the largest settlement ever with a single entity for multiple potential Health Insurance Portability and...more

HIPAA Wake-Up Call for Financial Institutions: First HIPAA Settlement with Business Associate

It’s a HIPAA first. A business associate has settled a direct enforcement action over allegations that it potentially violated the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). This settlement portends future...more

2.7 Million Dollar HIPAA Settlement

Last week, Oregon Health & Science University (“OHSU”) agreed to pay $2.7 million to resolve potential violations of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (“HIPAA”) Security Rule, Privacy Rule, and...more

Health Update - July 2016

The Vulnerability of Healthcare Information - According to a report the Brookings Institute issued in May 2016, 23% of all data breaches occur in the healthcare industry. Nearly 90% of healthcare organizations had some...more

HHS Releases Guidance On Ransomware And HIPAA

On July 11, 2016, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights (“OCR”) published new guidance on the how HIPAA applies to ransomware prevention and attacks. Specifically, the guidance lays out...more

HHS: Ransomware Attacks Can Trigger Reporting Requirements

On July 11, 2016, the HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR) released new HIPAA guidance regarding ransomware. The Fact Sheet, issued by OCR on July 11, covers various issues relating to ransomware, including reporting...more

HHS OCR Guidance on Ransomware Attacks: They Constitute a “Security Incident” and Are Likely a Data Breach

On July 11, 2016, the HHS Office of Civil Rights (OCR) released guidance on HIPAA covered entities’ responsibilities in a ransomware attack, a type of cyber-attack that has targeted the health care sector extensively in...more

New Materials Help Covered Entities Comply with Nondiscrimination Rules

Last week, the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) released new materials for covered entities to use to comply with Section 1557, the nondiscrimination provision of the Affordable Care Act. Section 1557...more

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