Protected Health Information

News & Analysis as of

HIPAA Breaches: Size Doesn't Necessarily Matter

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Civil Rights (OCR) made headlines this month with a record $5.55 million HIPAA settlement reached with Advocate Health Care System, Illinois’ largest health care...more

No HIPAA Hall Pass for Business Associates and Small Breaches

Phase 2 Audits of Business Associates: The Department of Health and Human Services, Office for Civil Rights (OCR) is in the process of conducting its phase 2 audits of Covered Entities and Business Associates. “Covered...more

Healthcare Compliance: Juggling Risk Mitigation Strategies

Healthcare organizations – ranging from physician practice groups to large, multi-state hospital systems – face a variety of risks, including fraud and abuse, as well as HIPAA privacy issues. Starting from a baseline risk...more

OCR to Increase Investigations Of Smaller PHI Breaches

Healthcare providers and other covered entities must report breaches of unsecured protected health information (“PHI”) to the Secretary of Health and Human Services in accordance with the Breach Notification Rule of the...more

Small Breaches Matter Too: OCR Broadens HIPAA Breach Investigations

The Regional Offices of the Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights (OCR) already investigate every reported Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) breach affecting 500 or more...more

HHS Office for Civil Rights to Increase Investigation of Small HIPAA Breaches

The Office for Civil Rights within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (OCR) recently announced that it has increased its review of breaches of protected health information affecting fewer than 500 individuals....more

HIPAA Audit Check-Up – Where We Are and What’s to Come

Phase 2 of the HIPAA audits is fully underway, and covered entities now can take a breath if they have not received a desk audit request. But we still are at the beginning of Phase 2, with more to come. ...more

How to Develop a HIPAA Incident Response Team

Covered entities and business associates are required to identify and report breaches of unsecured protected health information (“PHI”) and security incidents. “Breach” is defined as the acquisition, access, use, or...more

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

Locky Ransomware Continues to Hit Health Care Entities

FireEye Labs has reported that the Locky ransomware continues to hit the health care industry hard, and has increased in the month of August. Although the telecommunications, manufacturing and aerospace/defense...more

Agencies Encourage New Privacy Regulations to Close the mHealth Black Hole and Keep Pace with Evolving Technologies

On July 19, 2016, the ONC submitted a report to Congress which suggests that health privacy regulations soon may be revised to catch up with the universe of mHealth technologies that now use and share personal health data....more

FTC Overturns ALJ’s LabMD Decision and Reasserts its Role as a Data Security Enforcer

On July 29, 2016, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC” or “Commission”) reversed an FTC administrative law judge’s (“ALJ”) opinion which had ruled against the FTC, finding that the Commission had failed to show that LabMD’s...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

Client Alert: OCR Blitzkrieg: Wider Investigation of Smaller Breaches

On the heels of its first business associate settlement with a business associate and a hat trick of multi-million dollar settlements with covered entities involving electronic Protected Health Information (“PHI”), on August...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

Healthcare Records Held Hostage: When ransomware attacks

Imagine for a moment that your hospital or physician practice suddenly cannot access its electronic medical records. There hasn’t been a natural disaster. No, instead you are inexplicably staring at a computer screen from an...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

3.3 Million Health Records Breached by Business Associate Newkirk

Newkirk Products Inc., which provides ID cards and management services for healthcare organizations, including multiple Blue Cross Blue Shield organizations, has announced that it has discovered that its computer system was...more

Ransomware and Malware Continue to Plague Health Care Organizations

We continue to warn health care organizations about the real and serious risks associated with ransomware and malware, but organizations don’t prepare for it adequately and are getting hit hard. Just this past week,...more

Ransomware May Be a Reportable HIPAA Breach

In 2016, more than 4000 ransomware or other malware attacks are occurring daily, a 300% increase since 2015. There have been reports of six hospitals that have been victims of ransomware in 2016. Ransomware is a type of...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

Smaller HIPAA Breaches To Get More Attention by Office for Civil Rights

The HIPAA breach notification rule has two buckets for classifying data breaches – those that involve “protected health information” (PHI) of 500 or more individuals and those that involve fewer than 500 individuals. Since...more

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