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Preview: HIPAA Blog

HIPAA Blog



A discussion of medical privacy issues buried in political arcana



Updated: 2017-03-25T09:07:38.157-05:00

 



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2017-03-20T15:04:09.402-05:00

Well, this is embarrassing: Cybersecurity contractor hit by W2 phishing scam.  



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2017-03-01T13:44:30.398-06:00

Interesting Question: HIPAA lawyer Adam Greene was interviewed at HIMSS, and noted that HHS is close to publishing the regulations implementing the HITECH revisions that allow affected individuals to get a share of the fines levied by OCR.  As you should know, there's no private cause of action for a HIPAA violation, so unless a victim of a data breach can prove damages in a regular tort claim



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2017-02-22T12:20:21.658-06:00

2 Healthcare Data Breaches up 40%, Affect 25% of Consumers: According to the Identity Theft Research Center, Healthcare represents one third of all data breaches, and the number of reported breaches has risen from 780 in 2015 to 1093 last year.  Hacking, physical theft of data, and employee error have been leading causes, but expect phishing to be the next big winner.  Meanwhile, an Accenture



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2017-02-17T12:46:25.702-06:00

Another Day, Another Monster Fine: This time it's Memorial Healthcare System (Florida), with a $5.5 million fine for not following access controls and allowing terminated employees to continue accessing medical records after being terminated.  They had policies and procedures to terminate access, but dropped the ball with that employee, who kept accessing records for a year (I suspect the former



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2017-02-14T14:47:31.587-06:00

On the News: Some dude talking about HIPAA and misdirected faxes.



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2017-02-09T16:33:16.431-06:00

Interesting case, wrong conclusion: University of Pittsburg Medical Center suffered a data breach where 62,000 employees' SSNs and tax data were breached, but a Pennsylvania court has determined that as an employer, it has no duty to its employees to protect data.  The article compares it to the Children's Medical Center of Dallas breach, but that's a different kettle of fish: the Children's



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2017-02-01T16:34:02.067-06:00

Children's Medical Center of Dallas fined $3.2 Million: Well, this is the first I've heard of this, which is awfully close to home. Apparently, a lost unencrypted Blackberry in 2009 and a stolen unencrypted laptop in 2013 exposed a failure to implement and follow risk management plans, including the failure to secure and encrypt mobile devices.  Big entities with somewhat obvious problems will



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2017-01-27T14:37:23.254-06:00

Medical Identity Theft: an Illinois paramedic apparently altered patient records to falsely show that Fentanyl and Morphine were dispensed to patients during an ambulance run, so that he could steal the drugs for himself.  As Kirk Nahra points out in the article, insiders are still one of the biggest threats to an organization.



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2017-01-22T23:33:48.036-06:00

What's wrong with this picture? Someone stole a USB "pen drive" from MAPFRE Life Insurance Company of Puerto Rico.  The storage device had PHI on it, including names, DOB, and SSN of 2200 people.  No risk analysis, no risk management plan, and no encryption plan.  OCR levied a fine for these HIPAA violations of $2.2 million (which is supposedly "low" because of the tenuous financial condition of



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2017-01-16T15:22:27.570-06:00

New Year, Recurring Tasks: It's a new year, so that should get you thinking about two things: reporting any "small" breaches of unsecured PHI that occurred during 2016 (you have until the end of February to do so, using the HHS on-line reporting tool) and planning your next HIPAA risk assessment.  You do that annually, don't you?  Of course you do, maybe not at the beginning of the year, but



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2017-01-11T18:11:13.512-06:00

OCR Announces First Fine for Failing to Provide Timely Notice: As you know, HIPAA requires Covered Entities to notify affected individuals if there is a breach of their unsecured PHI.  Specifically, 45 CFR 165.404(b) requires each affected individual to be notified of the breach "without unreasonable delay and in no case later than 60 calendar days after discovery of a breach." Presence Health



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2017-01-04T15:12:54.863-06:00

Non-HIPAA Post: My students all know this, but the pre-existing condition exclusion will not work unless there is a mandate.



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2016-12-26T16:28:01.596-06:00

Section 1557 of the ACA: Notice of Non-Discrimination. I'm going through old emails, and had kept this one, knowing I should make a blog post on it.  This goes on the list of things too many HIPAA covered entities fail to do (like good risk analyses, policies and procedures, etc.).   This is actually old news, but part of the ACA requires all HIPAA covered entities to notify patients (



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2016-12-22T10:59:42.106-06:00

Community Health Plan of Washington Breach: Not much information here, but what appears to be a Medicaid managed care plan suffered some sort of data breach that potentially exposed information about approximately 400,000 people. UPDATE: Here's a little more information, via Justin Shafer (@JShafer817 on Twitter)*.  Although you never know with Justin, I suspect he might have found an



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2016-12-12T14:20:46.543-06:00

New Guidance from OCR: Last week the Office for Civil Rights issued some additional guidance on disclosures that are permitted under HIPAA for "public health activities."  Covered entities don't need patient authorization to use and disclose PHI for public health activities such as reporting communicable diseases or tracking adverse events relating to FDA-approved drugs and devices.  The CDC's



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2016-12-05T12:37:20.683-06:00

Glendale (CA) Adventist snooping case: A per diem nurse apparently went snooping in 528 patient files.  



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2016-12-01T10:45:49.075-06:00

Phishing: You might've heard of this earlier, but someone is using OCR's Phase II audits as a pretext for sending what OCR is calling "a phishing email."  I haven't seen an actual email (if someone has one, send it my way), but I'm not sure it's exactly phishing so much as spam. Apparently the email says you may be included in OCR's HIPAA Privacy, Security, and Breach Rules Audit Program, but



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2016-11-29T16:28:46.475-06:00

What does the Trump Administration mean for healthcare?  Here's one perspective.



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2016-11-17T15:45:22.531-06:00

California data breach notification law undergoes changes: I don't think this is ultimately as big a deal as I initially thought, but Governor Jerry Brown has signed into law a revision to the California data breach notification law, requiring notification where encrypted data is part of the breach.  Under existing law, if the data is encrypted, no breach notification is required.  Under the new



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2016-11-14T14:27:12.831-06:00

Idaho State University: Update: My apologies, this appeared in a newsfeed of mine last week, and while I was surprised I hadn't seen it otherwise, I figured out I might have missed it.  Turns out it's not current news, and I did, in fact, report on it back in 2013 when it happened. Thanks to Dissent Doe for pointing that out. Today's earlier post: A contractor failed to reactivate a firewall



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2016-11-09T13:27:01.675-06:00

Off-Topic: A friend emailed from Florida asking what I thought about the election.  Here's my hot take. Surprised but not surprised.  Do you read Scott Adams?  He writes the Dilbert cartoon.  He’s been saying all along that Trump would win just because Trump is a master of persuasion.  Read his post from yesterday on confirmation bias and you’ll see what he’s up to.  If you have time, it



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2016-11-08T15:12:18.912-06:00

Off Topic: This is a post for HMGT-6330.  The additional links are: Private Insurance numbers Paying the Penalty Insurers leaving Who is affected CO-OP info CO-OP troubles Overall Obamacare Troubles



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2017-01-17T17:08:46.799-06:00

Hmm, I'd expect a better level of understanding from the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology.  Or maybe it's just the reporting that's bad, and something is lost in the translation.  At the Brainstorm Health conference yesterday, Dr. Vindell Washington, head of ONCHIT, said that patient data belongs to the patient (true), and that the providers who hold the data do not own it



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2016-10-21T22:37:33.474-05:00

(OT) Candy Corn Beer.  I blame Steve Badger.



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2016-10-19T13:50:45.456-05:00

Interesting (Yet Entirely Wrong) Article: A doctor writing for Slate shows that he doesn't know how HIPAA works (see the first comment - all the way at the bottom of the comments).  But hey, at least he spelled it right. . . .