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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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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HHS Strengthens HIPAA Enforcement

On Friday, October 30, 2009, HHS published in the Federal Register its Interim Final Rule that strengthens HIPAA enforcement under HITECH Act civil penalty revisions enacted as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act on February 17, 2009.  “These HITECH Act revisions significantly increase the penalty amounts the Secretary [of HHS] may impose for violations of the HIPAA rules and encourage prompt corrective action,” according to the HHS press release.  The Interim Final Rule is effective as federal policy on November 30, 2009, and HHS requests comments by December 29, 2009. With the definition of ‘breach’ in the HITECH Act moving privacy and security violations under one requirement requiring…

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