Protected Health Information Data Security

News & Analysis as of

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

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

Three Former Warner Chilcott District Managers Prosecuted for HIPAA Violations

The United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts recently announced that three former district managers of the pharmaceutical firm Warner Chilcott have been sentenced for violating the Health Insurance...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

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

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

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

LabMD Seeks Stay of FTC’s Final Order Pending Appeal

Not surprisingly, on August 30, 2016, LabMD filed its Application for a Stay of the Final Order of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) pending review of the order by the appellate court. But since the matter is still pending...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

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

Guidance on Ransomware Attacks under HIPAA and State Data Breach Notification Laws

The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has recently issued guidance under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) on what covered entities and business associates can do to prevent and...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

FTC Reverses ALJ’s Decision In LabMD Case

Back in November 2015, Chief Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) D. Michael Chappell ruled that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) failed to show that LabMD, Inc.’s (LabMD) data security practices caused harm to consumers stemming...more

FTC Holds That Disclosure of Sensitive Medical Information Due to Lax Security Violates the FTC Act

Last week, three commissioners from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) held in In the Matter of LabMD, Inc. that a company’s failure to implement reasonable security measures to protect sensitive consumer information on its...more

Commission Holds FTC Unfairness Claim Does Not Require “Probable” or Tangible Injury in LabMD Data Security Case

The Federal Trade Commission unanimously (3-0) ruled on July 29, 2016 that LabMD’s data security practices were “unfair” under Section 5 of the FTC Act, reversing a decision of its Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). As we...more

Boosts in Ransomware Attacks Spark Multiple Government Agency Responses

Following a recent U.S. government interagency report indicating that, on average, there has been an alarming 300 percent spike in daily ransomware attacks since early 2016 as compared with 2015, the U.S. Department of Health...more

Unplanned EHR Disruptions–Common for Hospitals

The prevalence of ransomware attacks is increasing. In fact, “[o]n average, more than 4,000 ransomware attacks have occurred daily since January 1, 2016,” according to a recent interagency government report. Given this...more

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