Nearly 8.3 Million Individuals Impacted by 249 Privacy and Security Breaches Reported by HHS; More Training on Safeguarding PHI Required

Under the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH Act), enacted as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, covered entities are required to report to the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) any privacy or security breach affecting 500 or more individuals within 60 days of discovery of the breach by the covered entity or its business associate.  The HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR), which is responsible for privacy and security enforcement under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and HITECH Act provisions that strengthened privacy and security enforcement, is required to post those breaches…

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OCR Reports 107 Breaches Affecting Over 4 Million Individuals (II)

The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) regularly updates its Web site listing of breaches affecting 500 or more individuals. As of July 2, 2010, there were 107 breaches listed that were reported to have occurred between September 22, 2009 and June 11, 2010. Individuals affected by these publicly listed breaches totaled 4,086,980. Six of the 107 breaches, or 5.6% of the total, affected 3,353,627 individuals, or 82% of the total. This is the second of three postings that analyzes the data from these 107 breaches. This posting (II) covers paper breaches. The first posting (I) covered electronic breaches, and the final posting (III) looks at the prevalence of business associate…

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OCR Reports 107 Breaches Affecting Over 4 Million Individuals (I)

As of the July 4th holiday weekend, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has updated again its Web site listing of breaches affecting 500 or more individuals.  As of July 2, 2010, there were 107 breaches listed that were reported to have occurred between September 22, 2009 and June 11, 2010. Individuals affected by these publicly listed breaches totaled 4,086,980.  Six of the 107 breaches, or 5.6% of the total, affected 3,353,627 individuals, or 82% of the total.  This is the first of three postings that analyzes the data from these 107 breaches.  This posting (I) covers electronic breaches, the next posting (II) covers hard copy (paper) breaches, and the…

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OCR Identifies 36 Entities with Breaches Affecting 500 or More Individuals

On Monday, February 22, 2010, the federal government, through the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), began enforcing the Breach Notification Rule for breaches occurring on or after that date.  The Breach Notification for Unsecured Protected Health Information; Interim Final Rule, was published in the Federal Register on Monday, August 24, 2009 [74 FR 42739-42770] and was effective September 23, 2009.  Since September 22, 2009, 36 breaches of privacy or security of protected health information (PHI) affecting 500 or more individuals have been reported to OCR.  The total number of individuals affected was 1,073,657, with two of the breaches involving 359,000 (FL)…

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Transmission Security: What This HIPAA Security Rule Technical Safeguard Standard Means

This is the fifth and last Technical Safeguard Standard of the HIPAA Administrative Simplification Security Rule.  It has two implementation specifications:  integrity controls; and encryption.  Each is 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 (ARRA), signed by President Obama on February 17, 2009. For compliance with…

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Nationwide Privacy and Security Framework for Electronic Exchange: Key Meaningful Use 2011 Objective Recommendation

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. This report states: “[a] key factor to achieving a high-level of trust among individuals, health care providers, and other health care organizations participating in electronic health information exchange is the development of, and adherence to, a consistent and coordinated approach to privacy and security. Clear, understandable, uniform principles are a first step in developing a consistent and coordinated approach to privacy and security and a key component to…

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Audit Control: What to Do and How to Do It

In our series on the HIPAA Administrative Simplification Security Rule, this is the second Technical Safeguard Standard. There is not a separately described implementation specification. Rather, this standard’s implementation specification is connoted in the language of the standard and 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 is required to implement hardware, software, and/or procedural mechanisms…

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Security Incident Procedures Response and Reporting: What to Do and How to Do It

This is the sixth Administrative Safeguard Standard of the HIPAA Administrative Simplification Security Rule. This is its one implementation specification, Response and Reporting, which is required for compliance. As we have noted in earlier postings, with enactment of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (“ARRA”) on February 17, 2009, business associates also will be required to comply with the Security Rule standards, effective February 17, 2010. What to Do This standard requires that the covered entity implement response and reporting policies to address security incidents. A security incident is defined as “the attempted or successful unauthorized access, use, disclosure, modification, or destruction of information or interference with system…

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Security Incident Procedures: What This HIPAA Security Rule Administrative Safeguard Standard Means

This is the sixth Administrative Safeguard Standard of the HIPAA Administrative Simplification Security Rule. It has one implementation specification:  Response and Reporting, which is required for compliance. As we have noted in earlier postings, with enactment of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (“ARRA”) on February 17, 2009, business associates also will be required to comply with the Security Rule standards, effective February 17, 2010. This safeguard standard and its implementation specification require covered entities to establish policies and procedures to respond to security incidents and to report them. A security incident is defined as “the attempted or successful unauthorized access, use, disclosure, modification, or destruction of information…

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