We have heard the well-publicized stories of stolen laptops and resulting violations of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), and we generally recognize the inherent security risks and potential for breach of unsecured electronic protected health information posed by computer hard drives. We remember to “wipe” the personal data off of… Continue Reading
We pack tons of personal and sensitive information in our DNA. While the human genome has been mapped for a decade, legal issues of genetic privacy are just beginning to rise. Earlier this month, the U.S. Supreme Court decided what Justice Alito described as “perhaps the most important criminal procedure case that this court has heard… Continue Reading
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) published on its website a series of factsheets designed to educate consumers unfamiliar with their rights under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act’s (HIPAA) Privacy and Security Rules. These four factsheets are described in detail below. I. OCR Consumer Factsheet:… Continue Reading
For the fourth time since the Massachusetts data security regulations took effect in March 2010, the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office (“AGO”) has settled allegations that Massachusetts-based entities violated the regulations. On January 7, 2013, Suffolk Superior Court approved consent judgments pursuant to which five entities agreed to collectively pay $140,000 to settle allegations that they… Continue Reading
On January 17, 2013, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced the final omnibus rule that among other things (1) increases patient privacy protections; (2) provides individuals with new rights to receive a copy of their electronic medical record in an electronic form; and (3) provides individuals with the right to… Continue Reading
As physicians, nurses, therapists and health care providers continue to utilize new smart phones, tablets, and laptops in caring for patients, the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) has responded with educational videos, worksheets and guidance to help health care providers create a “culture of compliance and awareness” and to protect patients’ Protected Health… Continue Reading
On November 26, 2012, the Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights (“OCR”) published a thirty-two page document titled “Guidance Regarding Methods for De-identification of Protected Health Information in Accordance with Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy Rule” (“De-Identification Guidance”). OCR described the guidance document as a culmination of two… Continue Reading
As health care providers, patients, family members, friends, and disaster relief agencies such as the American Red Cross continue to grapple with the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy it is important to be mindful of privacy regulations and to prepare in advance for the next emergency. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (“HIPAA”… Continue Reading
What if the story of your life was written at birth- a “future diary” available for someone to read? The decoding of the human genome over a decade ago held the promise of defying our genetic destiny, but it also foreshadowed some significant ethical issues on the horizon. This month, California legislators addressed some of… Continue Reading
A federal district court dismissed an action against an employer alleging vicarious liability for an employee’s dissemination of a patient’s protected health information (PHI) related to treatment for a sexually transmitted disease (STD). Specifically, the court found that the employer, a private New York medical clinic, was not vicariously liable for the actions of the employee because the employee was acting in a personal capacity which was beyond the scope of her employment.
On January 19, 2012, Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson exercised her authority under the HITECH Act by filing a lawsuit against a business associate for the failure to protect protected health information (PHI) and for the failure to disclose the extent to which PHI was utilized. The case alleges that Accretive Health, Inc., a debt collection… Continue Reading
On November 8, 2011, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights (OCR) announced details of its HIPAA Privacy and Security Audit Program. The OCR pilot program calls for approximately 150 audits of covered entities, which audits are intended to address privacy and security compliance, and assist OCR in assessing and identifying best practices as well as risks and vulnerabilities for health care entities. Although the pilot program is expected to immediately impact a small number of covered entities, it appears that OCR is increasing its efforts to enforce HIPAA and the HITECH Act.
Cignet Health was fined $4.3 million by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of Civil Rights for violating the Privacy Rule of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996.
Last week, the Connecticut Attorney General became the first state attorney general to enter into a settlement agreement for HIPAA violations, as a result of the new authority granted to attorneys general under the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH Act).
On August 24 and 25, 2009, the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) and the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”), respectively published rules on when and how covered entities regulated by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (“HIPAA”) and vendors of personal health records (“PHR”) must notify individuals of security breaches concerning… Continue Reading
The popularity of crime dramas on primetime television schedules has made certain aspects of genetic testing commonplace and uncontroversial. However, as science continues to advance at an exponential rate, and as technology and innovation have invaded the realm of individual privacy rights, individuals’ genetic make-up are likely the next frontier. At least 32 states have… Continue Reading
Two months after Congress mandated notification for the breach of unsecured protected health information (PHI), the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) defined what it means to be “unsecured.” As required by Section 13402 of the HITECH Act, H.R. 1, 111th Cong. (1st Sess. 2009) (which was part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009), the Secretary issued guidance and a request for comments on the technologies and methodologies rendering information unusable, unreadable or indecipherable. 74 Fed. Reg. 19006 (Apr. 27, 2009) (to be codified at 45 C.F.R. pts. 160, 164).
The health care industry has been waiting for resolution of the question: Do the Federal Trade Commission’s Identity Theft Red Flag Rules apply to health care providers? With the May 1st compliance deadline looming, health care providers need to know. The answer seems to depend on whom you ask. The Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) and… Continue Reading
By Jeffrey D. Neuburger and Sara Krauss Congress has been dithering over the adoption of a federal data security breach notice law for the last several years without coming to an agreement on a national standard for reporting breaches in the security of personal and financial data, but on February 17, data breach notice provisions… Continue Reading
On July 15, 2008, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (“HHS”) entered into its first Resolution Agreement with a HIPAA-covered entity to settle alleged violations of the privacy and security regulations promulgated under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (“HIPAA”). Pursuant to the Resolution Agreement, a Seattle-based not-for-profit health system, Providence… Continue Reading
Proskauer on Privacy will never be confused with TMZ, but we would be remiss if we failed to report on the high profile privacy scandal unfolding in the backyard of our Los Angeles office. As we previously reported, California’s data breach notification law was amended effective January 1, 2008, to include breaches of medical and health insurance information. A number of recent incidents illustrate once again that it is not enough to have written policies and procedures in place for the handling of sensitive information – employee training is essential.