Protected Health Information Healthcare

News & Analysis as of

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

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

FTC Announces New Guidance on Ransomware

On November 10, 2016, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) released new guidance for businesses and consumers on the impact of, and how to respond to ransomware. Ransomware is a form of malicious software that infiltrates...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

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

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

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

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

The Tech Industry’s Next Frontier?

Tongue-in-cheek references to Pokémon Go as a health App aside, maybe the tech industry is on to something. In the U.S., seven out of every ten deaths are due to chronic diseases, such as diabetes or heart disease. Perhaps...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

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

SCAN Health Plan Notifies Patients of Data Breach Affecting 87,000 Individuals

SCAN Health Plan of California, SCAN Health Plan Arizona, and VillageHealth are in the process of notifying certain plan members and non-plan members of a breach of protected health information, including names, addresses,...more

Orleans Medical Clinic Notifies 6,890 Patients of Data Breach

Orleans Medical Clinic (Orleans) in Indiana has notified the Office for Civil Rights that the protected health information of 6,890 patients was compromised as a result of an upgrade to its server. Orleans is in the process...more

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