Reported Breaches of 500 or More Individuals up to 93 and Affecting Over 2.5 Million Individuals; Enforcement and Penalties

As of Friday, June 4, 2010, 93 breaches affecting 500 or more individuals have been reported on the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) Web site. The total number affected has gone beyond 2-1/2 million individuals today, and stands at 2,565,352 individuals. Of the 87 breaches involving breach of hard copy or electronic protected health information, 26% involve hard copy or paper records and 74% records on electronic media or devices. Overall, 71% of the 93 breaches involve theft or loss of records, many of which might have been avoided by appropriate securing of hard copy records and electronic media and devices. Below we remind readers of the Department of Health…

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FTC Delays Enforcement of FTC Red Flags Rule Fifth Time

The original FTC Red Flags Rule compliance date deadline was extended three times from the original date of November 1, 2008, with an expected compliance date of November 1, 2009.  Just prior to that date, the FTC extended for the fourth time the deadline for compliance to June 1, 2010.  On May 28, 2010, the June 1, 2010, compliance date was extended a fifth time to December 31, 2010[1]: “At the request of several Members of Congress, the Federal Trade Commission is further delaying enforcement of the ‘Red Flags’ Rule through December 31, 2010, while Congress considers legislation that would affect the scope of entities covered by the Rule.  Today’s…

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OCR Stepping Up HIPAA Security Enforcement

Health Data Management (HDM) reported today, May 12, that the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is going to strengthen HIPAA Security Rule enforcement, based on statements made on Tuesday, May 11 by the OCR Deputy Director for Privacy, Susan McAndrew, at the Safeguarding Health Information conference in Washington, DC, co-sponsored by OCR and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).  “To boost enforcement of the security rule, OCR has added investigators in 10 regional offices, McAndrew notes,” as reported by Joe Goedert in the HDM article, “OCR Boosting Security Enforcement,” which is available online. This report comes several days after…

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HITECH and HIPAA Training: Time to Double Down

As the healthcare industry continues to digest profound HITECH changes to HIPAA Privacy and Security rules, two observations already are apparent and indisputable for covered entities and their business associates.  First, time and resources spent on a workforce that is well-trained on the Privacy and Security rules will be an investment of exponential value. Second, enforcement of those same rules will make negligent and uncorrected errors very costly. A well-trained workforce makes fewer mistakes, and identifies and fixes those that it makes. A workforce that violates the rules because it does not know them or does not care to know them makes an inviting target for HITECH’s new enforcement initiatives….

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HHS Secretary Sebelius Delegates Oversight and Enforcement of HIPAA Security Rule to OCR

U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has delegated oversight and enforcement of the HIPAA Administrative Simplification Security Rule Standards for Protection of Electronic Protected Health Information to HHS’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR), effective July 27, 2009.  Since October 7, 2003, the Security Rule had been the responsibility of HHS’s Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). OCR also has responsibility for the HIPAA Administrative Simplification Privacy Rule.  This delegation brings responsibility for administrative, technical, and physical standards for safeguarding of protected health information in each rule under one authority, and likely will facilitate enforcement of the HITECH Act breach, notification, and business associate security rule compliance…

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Accountability Key Privacy/Security Principle of Meaningful Use 2011 Objectives

On December 15, 2008, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) published its 11 page report: Nationwide Privacy and Security Framework for Electronic Exchange of Individually Identifiable Health Information. The eight principles in this report underpin the HIPAA Administrative Simplification Privacy and Security Rule standards, provide a foundation of the Privacy provisions of the HITECH Act in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, signed by President Obama on February 17, 2009, and are a key objective of proposed 2011 Objective recommendations for Meaningful Use published by HHS’ Health IT Policy Committee on June 16, 2009….

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Physical Safeguard Standard, Device and Media Controls: Disposal Implementation Specification-What to Do and How to Do It

In our series on the HIPAA Administrative Simplification Security Rule, Device and Medial Controls is the fourth and last Physical Safeguard Standard.  Disposal is the first of four implementation specifications, and it is required.  As we have noted in earlier postings on HIPAA.com, business associates of covered entities will be required to comply with the Security Rule safeguard standards, beginning February 17, 2010.  This requirement is one of the HITECH Act provisions of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), signed by President Obama on February 17, 2009. What to Do A covered entity must implement policies and procedures to address the final disposition of electronic protected health information and…

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Device and Media Controls: What This HIPAA Security Rule Physical Safeguard Standard Means

This is the fourth and last Physical Safeguard Standard of the HIPAA Administrative Simplification Security Rule.  It has four implementation specifications:  disposal, media re-use, accountability, and data backup and storage.  The first two are required; the last two are addressable.  Addressable does not mean “optional.”  Rather, an addressable implementation specification means that a covered entity must use reasonable and appropriate measures to meet the standard.  As we have noted in earlier postings on HIPAA.com, business associates of covered entities will be required to comply with the Security Rule safeguard standards, beginning February 17, 2010.  This requirement is one of the HITECH Act provisions of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act…

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Final HIPAA Enforcement Rule

DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Office of the Secretary 45 CFR Parts 160 and 164 | RIN 0991–AB29 HIPAA Administrative Simplification: Enforcement AGENCY: Office of the Secretary, HHS. ACTION: Final rule. Download (Requires Acrobat Reader)