Lahey Hospital agrees to pay a whopping $850,000 to OCR for stolen laptop

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Just before Thanksgiving, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) announced that Lahey Hospital and Medical Center (Lahey) has agreed to pay $850,000 in fines and penalties to the OCR and enter into a resolution agreement following the self-disclosure that a laptop containing CT scans was stolen from Lahey in October of 2011.

Surprisingly, the fine is inconsistent with other fines levied by the OCR for similar issues over the past several years and it is hard to understand why it is so out of whack.

According to the resolution agreement, the case stemmed from the theft of an unencrypted laptop from an, “unlocked treatment room off of the inner corridor of Lahey’s Radiology Department.” The laptop contained the names, birthdates and imaging information of 599 patients from a CT scanner.

The OCR alleged, and Lahey did not admit, that this violated six separate provisions in HIPAA, including failing to conduct a risk assessment, failing to implement reasonable and appropriate physical safeguards of a workstation, failing to implement policies and procedures governing the receipt and removal of hardware and electronic media, failing to assign a unique user name to identify and track user identities on workstations, failing to implement a mechanism to record and examine activity on the workstation, and the impermissible disclosure of the PHI of 599 individuals.

Lahey has agreed to implement a Corrective Action Plan including conducting and implementing a security management process, implementing policies and procedures, training employees and checking in with the OCR periodically regarding implementation.

[View source.]

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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