Protected Health Information

News & Analysis as of

Health Care E-Note - January 2017

On October 4, 2016, The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services ("CMS") released the final rules regarding the requirements of participation for skilled nursing facilities. One of the most significant changes to the...more

Vendor Causes Breach of Over 5,000 Patient Records

The continued risk that vendors pose to companies, including health care entities cannot be overemphasized. This week, Sentara Healthcare (Sentara) announced that one of its third-party vendors was the victim of a...more

Health Care Group News: OCR Releases New Clarifying Guidance In Response To Orlando Pulse Nightclub Attack

In an emergency, when there is a flurry of activity in a hospital, covered entities often struggle with who they are permitted to release patient information to under HIPAA. On January 11, 2017, the Department of Health and...more

New Hampshire Psychiatric Hospital Patient Records Posted Online by Former Patient

The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services has notified up to 15,000 patients of its psychiatric hospital (New Hampshire Hospital) that their names, addresses, Social Security numbers, Medicaid ID numbers and...more

Failure to Timely Notify Results in Enforcement Action and Significant Settlement

For the first time, on January 9, 2017, the Department of Health and Human Services, Office for Civil Rights (HHS/OCR) settled a HIPAA enforcement action based on the untimely reporting of a breach of unsecured protected...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

Time is of the Essence When Reporting a Breach of PHI

The failure to timely report a breach of unsecured protected health information (PHI) has cost Presence Health (one of the largest health systems in Illinois) almost half of a million dollars. Earlier this month,...more

2017 Health Information Privacy and Security New Year’s Resolutions

To start off the New Year, here are some potential health information privacy and security resolutions. You can use these Annual, Quarterly, and Monthly lists to map out your privacy and security tasks for the year, and then...more

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...more

5 Information Governance Predictions for 2017

Information is every organization’s greatest asset. It makes up intellectual property, trade secrets and many other vital corporate assets. It’s how we in corporate America conduct business. With that said, governing and...more

Looking Back at the HIPAA Resolution Agreements in 2016

In 2016, Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR), the enforcement arm for HIPAA, continued robust enforcement efforts. There were 12 reported resolution agreements (RA) in 2016. An RA is a settlement...more

November the Worst Month Yet for Healthcare Breaches

We have repeatedly reiterated numerous warnings to the healthcare industry about malware and ransomware [see related posts here and here]. Our predictions have unfortunately become true, as November was the worst month ever...more

21st Century Cures Act - HIPAA & Other Privacy Considerations

On December 13, 2016, President Obama signed the 21st Century Cures Act (the Cures Act) into law. The Cures Act addresses a wide range of healthcare topics including clinical research, treatment of mental health and substance...more

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...more

Quest Diagnostics Announces Breach of 34,000 Records

Quest Diagnostics, which operates medical laboratories, has announced that 34,000 customer records were exposed during a hacking incident that occurred on November 26th. The hacker obtained access to the information through...more

Over 3.1 Billion Records Breached So Far in 2016

The tally of records breached in 2016 (through November) globally was over 2.1 billion, according to IT Governance. With the announcement yesterday of Yahoo’s breach of another 1 billion records, that tally is now up to 3.1...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

Significant Changes to Health Information Technology Found in 21st Century Cures Act

On December 13, 2016, President Obama signed the 21st Century Cures Act ("Cures Act"), H.R. 34, into law. It enjoyed bipartisan support and was overwhelmingly approved by the House and Senate in recent weeks. The expansive...more

Data Analytics Enables Health Plans to Predict When Employees Need Health Services and For How Long

We know that data analytics is being used to influence a wide range of things such as the pair of shoes one might want to buy or what news is “trending” on Facebook. Similar tools are being applied to employer-sponsored group...more

2016 Health Care Year in Review

Since I began writing this year-end review in 2013, there have been some common themes – a shift to pay for quality and away from fee-for service, much of which has been brought about by the Affordable Care Act (ACA): efforts...more

21st Century Cures Act Includes Prohibition on Information Blocking and Mandates for Additional HIPAA Guidance

On November 30, 2016, the U.S. House of Representatives voted strongly in favor of the 21st Century Cures Act (the Act), an expansive health bill that addresses the discovery and development of new medical therapies as well...more

UMass Amherst Settles HIPAA Violations with OCR for $650,000

The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has announced that the University of Massachusetts Amherst (UMass) has agreed to settle an investigation against it as a result of a malware infection for $650,000, along with implementing a...more

HHS Issues Warning About Phishing Campaign Disguised As Official Communication

As part of its efforts to assess compliance with the HIPAA Privacy, Security and Breach Notification Rules, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) engages in audits of covered...more

New FTC Data Breach Response Guidelines

Cybersecurity should always be at the top of any retailer’s priority list—and even more so as the holiday shopping season gets underway. To that end, the Federal Trade Commission’s newly-released Data Breach Response...more

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

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