Protected Health Information Healthcare

News & Analysis as of

Lack of Timely Action and Knowledge of Risk Results in $3.2 Million Civil Monetary Penalty for HIPAA Violations

Children’s Medical Center of Dallas (Children’s) was hit with a $3.2 million civil penalty from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office for Civil Rights (OCR) for failing to take steps to properly protect...more

Children’s Medical Center of Dallas Clobbered by OCR

In a rare move by the OCR, it assessed a $3.2 million fine against Children’s Medical Center of Dallas (Children’s) after it issued a Notice of Proposed Determination against Children’s and Children’s failed to request a...more

Key HIPAA Settlement Agreements by HHS’s Office for Civil Rights in 2015 & 2016

The last time this blog presented an overview of key HIPAA settlement agreements at the Office for Civil Rights in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services was a review of 2014. The number of complaints that year had...more

What Did They Say About Cybersecurity in 2016? 8 Proclamations from Regulators and the Courts

There is no such thing as compliance with the NIST Cybersecurity Framework (FTC). In September, the FTC dispelled a commonly held misconception regarding the NIST Framework: It “is not, and isn’t intended to be, a standard or...more

Cancer Services Provider Confronts Ransomware Bully

My newest hero in the fight against ransomware is Little Red Door Cancer Services of East Central Indiana (Little Red Door). I am sending a donation to it to celebrate its courage in the last few weeks. Little Red Door...more

Data Breach Class Action Reinstated Against Horizon Healthcare Services Inc.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has vacated a district court's dismissal of a data breach class action filed against Horizon Healthcare Services Inc., in the wake of the 2013 theft of two computer laptops...more

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

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

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

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

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

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