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HIPAA, HITECH & HIT Legal Issues, Developments and Other Pertinent Information Relating To The Creation, Use and Exchange of Electronic Health Records

Category Archives: Privacy & Security

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HIP-HIP(AA)-HOORAY: Margaret Davino, Esq. Joins Fox Rothschild HIPAA Team and Offers 5 Tips for 2016 HIPAA Compliance

Posted in HIPAA Enforcement, Privacy & Security

I’m sure fellow bloggers Bill Maruca and Michael Kline join me in giving three cheers for the recent growth in our firm’s health care practice (welcome, Minneapolis!) and ever-deepening pool of attorneys dealing with clients’ privacy and data security issues. But one recent addition to our team, Margaret (“Margie”) Davino, gets a fourth cheer for… Continue Reading

Election Year Predictions: Expansion of Federal Healthcare Privacy Regulation

Posted in HIPAA Enforcement, Privacy & Security

Our partner Elizabeth Litten and I were quoted by our good friend Marla Durben Hirsch in her article in Medical Practice Compliance Alert entitled “6 Compliance Trends Likely to Affect Your Practices in 2016.” Full text can be found in the January 13, 2016, issue, but a synopsis is below. For her article, Marla asked… Continue Reading

Patient Data Must Be Encrypted, Not “Camouflaged”, as Per FTC Settlement

Posted in Health IT, Privacy & Security

Health care vendors beware: if you tell customers that your product provides industry-standard encryption of protected health information in compliance with HIPAA, you’d better be sure it doesn’t simply “camouflage” the data. The FTC recently announced a $250,000 settlement with Henry Schein Practice Solutions, Inc. (“Henry Schein”) for falsely advertising that the software it marketed… Continue Reading

Firearms, Mental Health, Executive Orders and HIPAA: A Volatile Mix

Posted in Articles, Privacy & Security

President Obama announced a series of Executive Orders on January 4, 2016 to address gun-related violence in America. Among those orders was an initiative to increase mental health reporting to the background check system. But this does not mean that mental health records will be widely released or that anyone who has sought treatment for… Continue Reading

Some Issues for Providers Regarding Involvement of Authorities in Patient ID Checks

Posted in Articles, Medical Identity Theft, Privacy & Security

Our partners Elizabeth Litten and William H. Maruca and I were quoted by our good friend Marla Durben Hirsch in her article in Medical Practice Compliance Alert entitled “Watch for HIPAA Pitfalls When Involving Police in ID Checks.” Full text can be found in the October 26, 2015, issue, but a synopsis is below. Marla’s… Continue Reading

Chief Administrative Law Judge Refuses to Swallow FTC’s Section 5 Interpretation in LabMD Ruling

Posted in Privacy & Security, Uncategorized

Already many blogs and articles have been written on Chief Administrative Law Judge D. Michael Chappell’s November 13, 2015 92-page decision exonerating LabMD from the FTC’s charges that it failed to provide reasonable and appropriate security for personal information maintained on its computer networks in violation of Section 5(a) of the FTC Act.  A number of the… Continue Reading

Emailing PHI? NIST Seeks Comments on Trustworthy Email by November 30, 2015

Posted in Health IT, HIPAA Enforcement, Privacy & Security, Uncategorized

When and how should you email PHI, if at all?  The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) offers guidance as to the permissibility of sending PHI via email in this “Frequently Asked Question” answer, but doesn’t provide specifics as to how PHI can be safely emailed.  Whether you are a covered entity or a business associate… Continue Reading

FTC on Privacy: Beware of Offering Choices to Consumers beyond the Legal Minimum Requirements

Posted in Articles, Privacy & Security

A recent post on this blog by our partner Elizabeth Litten was quoted in the Dissenting Statement (the “Dissent”) of FTC Commissioner Maureen K. Ohlhausen in the Matter of Nomi Technologies, Inc., Matter No. 1323251. Ms. Ohlhausen disagreed with the views of the majority of the Commissioners in the Matter because she believed that .… Continue Reading

How the NIST Cybersecurity Framework Can Help With HIPAA Compliance: 3 Tips

Posted in Privacy & Security

As our partner Mark McCreary writes in his post describing the “Framework for Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity” published by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST): The Framework is designed to work with businesses to reach a sufficient level of cybersecurity protection regardless of size, sector, or level of security.  The Framework consists of… Continue Reading

Oncology Group Fined $750,000 Over Stolen Backup Media, Lax Compliance Efforts

Posted in Articles, HIPAA Enforcement, Privacy & Security, Uncategorized

Cancer Care Group, P.C., a 13-physician radiation oncology practice in Indiana (group), has agreed to pay $750,000 and implement a comprehensive corrective action plan in a settlement resulting from the theft of a laptop and backup media containing unencrypted patient information.  As is often the case, the breach incident triggered an investigation that revealed deeper… Continue Reading

Six Tips for Physicians to Protect Patient Data on the Internet

Posted in HIPAA Enforcement, Privacy & Security

Our partner Elizabeth Litten and I were once again quoted by our good friend Marla Durben Hirsch in her recent articles in Medical Practice Compliance Alert entitled “Misapplication of Internet Application Triggers $218,400 Settlement” and “Protect Patient Data on the Internet with These 6 Steps.”  The three of us together were able to come up… Continue Reading

Hackers: Take My Health Information, But Please Don’t Take My Health

Posted in Privacy & Security, Sensitive Health Information

We know by now that protected health information (PHI) and other personal information is vulnerable to hackers.  Last week, the Washington Times reported that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the agency responsible for HIPAA enforcement, had suffered security breaches at the hands of hackers in at least five separate divisions over the… Continue Reading

Dumpster Diving for PHI Exposes Business Associate (and Physician Practice) to Liability

Posted in Lawsuits, Privacy & Security, Uncategorized

A Chicago record storage and disposal company has been named in a complaint filed by the Illinois Attorney General as a result of the negligent disposal of a medical practice’s patient records in an unlocked dumpster.   The complaint alleges that FileFax, Inc. violated the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act by failing to… Continue Reading

HIPAA-Type Protections Are Not Just For Humans – When It Comes To Medical Records, Animals Have Privacy Rights, Too (Part 1)

Posted in Privacy & Security, Sensitive Health Information

Co-authored by Nancy Halpern, DVM, Esq.; also posted on Animal Law Update HIPAA does not protect animals’ health information – it applies to the protected health information (or PHI) of an “individual”, defined as “the person who is the subject of” the PHI. However, state laws governing the confidentiality of health information also come into… Continue Reading

Athletes Do Not Leave Their HIPAA Rights At The Locker Room Door

Posted in Articles, Privacy & Security

HIPAA has made an unlikely appearance twice already this month in news reports involving famous athletes. Between the Pierre-Paul medical record tweet by ESPN reporter Adam Schefter earlier this month (discussed by my partner and fellow blogger Bill Maruca here) and the ticker-tape parade featuring confetti made of shredded (but apparently legible) medical information raining… Continue Reading

Expert Interview with William Maruca About Protecting Medical Records

Posted in HIPAA Business Associates, Privacy & Security

Our partner Bill Maruca, who is the Editor and a frequent contributor to this blog, was recently interviewed by PracticeSuite as part of their Expert Interview program.  In the course of his interview, Bill discusses patient confidentiality, keeping records safe and private, and trends in the medical billing industry.  One important recommendation by Bill is taken from his… Continue Reading

The Jiggery-Pokery of HIPAA Hacks

Posted in Health IT, Privacy & Security

I must thank Justice Scalia for injecting this delightfully descriptive term into the realm of health care.  Justice Scalia’s scathing dissent from the majority in the recent Supreme Court decision interpreting the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is rife with memorable expressions, but this is my favorite. The Merriam Webster definition of jiggery-pokery is:… Continue Reading

Even the Federal Government Can’t Hide: How a High-End Cyberattack Breached One of the Most “Protected” Systems

Posted in Privacy & Security, Uncategorized

Guest Blogger: Violetta Abinaked, Summer Associate (originally posted by Mark McCreary’s on Privacy Compliance & Data Security) With data breaches being the quickly trending “flavor of the month” criminal activity, it’s no shock that on June 4, 2015 yet another system was hit. This time though, it may be one of the largest cyberattacks in U.S.… Continue Reading

When Privacy Policies Should NOT Be Published – Two Easy Lessons From the FTC’s Nomi Technologies Case

Posted in Privacy & Security

This case has nothing to do with HIPAA, but should be a warning to zealous covered entities and other types of business entities trying to give patients or consumers more information about data privacy than is required under applicable law.  In short, giving individuals more information is not better, especially where the information might be… Continue Reading

Phishing for PHI

Posted in Privacy & Security

Two recently reported breaches of hospital data affecting thousands of patients highlight the prevalence, and apparent success, of phishing attacks.  Boston-based Partners HealthCare notified approximately 3,300 patients after a group of staff members were tricked by a phishing scam, and Indiana-based St. Vincent Medical Group, a 20-hospital system that is part of Ascension Health, reported… Continue Reading

Providers: Beware of HIPAA and Patient Privacy Rules During Employment Disputes

Posted in Privacy & Security

Our partner Elizabeth Litten and I were once again quoted by our good friend Marla Durben Hirsch in her recent article in Medical Practice Compliance Alert entitled “Beware of HIPAA, Patient Privacy During Practice Employment Disputes.”  The full text can be found in the March 30, 2015 issue of Medical Practice Compliance Alert, but a… Continue Reading

Doctor is Arrested for Allegedly Stealing Thousands of Patient Records

Posted in Privacy & Security

Our partner Elizabeth Litten and I were quoted by our good friend Marla Durben Hirsch in her recent article in Medical Practice Compliance Alert entitled “Doctor is Arrested for Stealing Thousands of Patient Records.”  While the full text can be found in the February 16, 2015 issue of Medical Practice Compliance Alert, the following considerations… Continue Reading