Header graphic for print
HealtHITech Law HIPAA, HITECH and Beyond

Tag Archives: OCR

Reminder: Report 2016 HIPAA Breaches By March 1, 2017

Posted in Breach

Covered entities which experienced a HIPAA breach in calendar year 2016 are required to report all such breaches affecting fewer than 500 individuals to OCR by Wednesday, March 1, 2017. The reports must be submitted via OCR’s online portal, available here. This yearly reporting obligation is in addition to the requirement to report large breaches — those… Continue Reading

OCR Guidance Clarifies Disclosures to Patient Spouses, Relatives, Friends

Posted in Permitted Disclosures, Personal Representative

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights (OCR) recently provided guidance for healthcare professionals concerning disclosures of protected health information (PHI) under the HIPAA Privacy Rule (the Privacy Rule) to patient spouses, relatives, and friends. Under the Privacy Rule, a covered entity may “share [PHI] with an individual’s family member, other… Continue Reading

Untimely Breach Notification Leads to Significant HIPAA Settlement

Posted in Breach, Enforcement

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) Office of Civil Rights (“OCR”) recently announced its first HIPAA settlement based on the untimely reporting of a breach of unsecured protected health information (“PHI”). Chicago-based Presence Health System (“Presence Health”) agreed to settle potential violations of the HIPAA Breach Notification Rule by paying $475,000.00 and implementing a… Continue Reading

HIPAA Disclosures for Public Health Activities

Posted in Public Health

Federal health information regulators recently clarified that HIPAA permits certain uses and disclosures for public health activities without patient authorization. A fact sheet released December 20 by the Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology explains a number of hypothetical scenarios in which… Continue Reading

OCR Alert: Phishing Email Disguised as Official OCR Audit Communication

Posted in OCR Audits

On November 28, 2016, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) issued an alert to providers and business associates monitoring their email for OCR audit communications. According to OCR, a phishing email disguised as an official communication from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and claiming to be signed by OCR’s director Jocelyn Samuels… Continue Reading

HIPAA Breach Reports Trigger Investigations, Significant Settlements

Posted in Breach, Business Associate, Enforcement

The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has announced two more significant HIPAA settlements involving covered entities. Both settlements were the result of investigations triggered by breach reports involving laptop thefts. And as is often the case, the investigations uncovered numerous HIPAA compliance issues above and beyond those which led to the breach. North Memorial Health Care… Continue Reading

Phase 2 of HIPAA Audits Set to Begin

Posted in OCR Audits

On Monday, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) announced the long-awaited launch of Phase 2 of its HIPAA Audit Program.  OCR is required by the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act to establish a permanent compliance audit program for HIPAA covered entities and their business associates. OCR completed the first phase of testing for the… Continue Reading

Reminder: Deadline for Reporting 2015 HIPAA Breaches Fast Approaching

Posted in Breach

Covered entities which experienced a HIPAA breach in calendar year 2015 are required to report all such breaches affecting fewer than 500 individuals to OCR by Monday, February 29, 2016. The reports must be submitted via OCR’s online portal, available here. This yearly reporting obligation is in addition to the requirement to report large breaches — those… Continue Reading

OCR Enforcement Results In Three HIPAA Settlements

Posted in Breach, Enforcement, OCR Audits

Many thanks to our colleagues Jonathan Ishee and Shannon Majoras for authoring this post. Recently the Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights (OCR) announced three settlements to resolve investigations into potential violations of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). OCR reached settlements with two academic medical centers, the Lahey… Continue Reading

Largest HIPAA Settlement Announced by HHS

Posted in Breach, Enforcement

Many thanks once again to our colleague, Robin Canowitz, for authoring this post. In the largest HIPAA settlement yet to be announced, two New York organizations have agreed to pay $4.8 million to settle allegations that they failed to secure the electronic health information (ePHI) of thousands of their patients.  New York Presbyterian Hospital (NYP) and… Continue Reading

HHS HIPAA Security Risk Assessment Tool Now Available

Posted in Security

Many thanks once again to our colleague, Sylvia Brown, for her assistance in authoring this post. The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) Office of Civil Rights (OCR), recently released a security risk asessment tool (SRA Tool) to assist entities… Continue Reading

OCR TO BEGIN SECOND ROUND OF HIPAA AUDITS

Posted in Enforcement, OCR Audits

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights (“OCR”) has announced that it is gearing up for its second round of HIPAA compliance audits later this year.  The HIPAA Audit Program is authorized under Section 13411 of the HITECH Act and is intended to assess compliance with the HIPAA Privacy, Security,… Continue Reading

New Access Rights to Lab Test Reports

Posted in Access Rights, Rulemaking

In an effort to further eliminate barriers to the exchange of health information and encourage a more active patient role in personal health care decisions, federal regulators have once again expanded HIPAA patient rights provisions.  Last week, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention… Continue Reading

OIG Report Criticizes HIPAA Oversight

Posted in OCR Audits, Security

The HHS Office of Civil Rights (“OCR”) has failed to comply with the HITECH Act’s mandate to audit HIPAA covered entities and business associates, according to a recent report published by the HHS Office of Inspector General (“OIG”). The OIG said that OCR “had not assessed the risks, established priorities, or implemented controls for its HITECH requirement… Continue Reading

Employee Sentenced to 3 Years for Violating HIPAA

Posted in Enforcement

A nursing assistant at a Florida assisted living facility was sentenced last week to 37 months in prison for violating HIPAA’s prohibition on the wrongful disclosure of patient health information.  The employee negotiated the sale of Social Security numbers with an undercover Tampa police detective.  According to the criminal complaint, the employee obtained information from the assisted… Continue Reading

HIPAA Webinar: Updates to The Privacy Rule

Posted in Rulemaking, Webinar

Please join us this Tuesday, March 19, 2013 for a complimentary webinar to further discuss the release of the Final Omnibus HIPAA Rule by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  This is the first in a three-part miniseries following last month’s webinar, where we focused generally on the sweeping changes to the HIPAA Privacy… Continue Reading

The Final Omnibus HIPAA Rule: Are You Ready?

Posted in Enforcement, Rulemaking

As we mentioned in last week’s Webinar on the HIPAA Final Omnibus Rule, there are less than nine short months for covered entities and their business associates (and all downstream business associates) to comply with the HIPAA final rules.  For those entities that have already taken steps following the release of the HITECH interim rules, the… Continue Reading

OCR Settles with Hospice of Northern Idaho for $50,000.00

Posted in Enforcement

OCR’s recent enforcement action against a small non-profit hospice organization in Idaho is more evidence that OCR is looking carefully at HIPAA Security Rule compliance.  On December 28, 2012, HHS announced that Hospice of Northern Idaho (“HONI”) had agreed to pay HHS $50,000 to settle potential violations of the HIPAA Security Rule.  This is the… Continue Reading

Final Omnibus HIPAA Rule Delayed

Posted in Rulemaking

Still waiting. The White House Ofice of Management and Budget (“OMB”) has extended its review of the final omnibus HIPAA rule, validating recent comments indicating that further delay was likely.  As we reported back in March, the Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rigths submitted the final omnibus rule for review by OMB,… Continue Reading

Alaska Medicaid Pays $1.7 Million to Settle HIPAA Violations

Posted in Enforcement

Last week, the Alaska Department of Health and Human Services (“Alaska DHHS”), the state’s Medicaid agency, agreed to pay U.S. Health and Human Services $1.7 million to settle alleged violations of the HIPAA Security Rule.  The HIPAA Security Rule protects health information in electronic form by requiring covered entities to use physical, technical, and administrative… Continue Reading

OCR Presents Preliminary HIPAA Audit Findings

Posted in Enforcement

OCR’s Audit Program, which began in December 2011, is part of HHS’ efforts under HITECH to assess HIPAA compliance by covered entities, identify best practices, and discover risks and vulnerabilities in protecting the privacy and security of PHI which may not have come to light through OCR’s complaint investigation and compliance reviews. OCR has repeatedly stated that… Continue Reading