PHI Security Breach Notification

This blog series has been following breaches of Protected Health Information (“PHI”) that have been reported on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) ever-lengthening parade list (the “HHS List”) of breaches of unsecured PHI affecting 500 or more individuals (the “List Breaches”). Previous blog posts in this series discussed here and  here

Much has been written about the circumstances surrounding the agreement of Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary (“MEEI”) to pay the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services the sum of $1.5 million to settle potential violations involving an alleged 2010 security breach of PHI under HIPAA. However, relatively little has been written that the 2010 breach was the second of what may be three significant PHI breaches experienced by MEEI within the last three years.
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The recent Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) resolution with Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, the state Medicaid agency (“Alaska Medicaid”), which includes the payment by Alaska Medicaid to HHS of $1.7 million respecting possible violations of HIPAA, raises questions as to the exacting of payments by HHS from a state agency that funds medical care for the Alaska indigent from taxpayers.
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The Department of Health and Human Services list of breaches of unsecured PHI affecting 500 or more individuals includes focused guidance for covered entities and business associates in the form of brief summaries of the cases that the federal Office of Civil Rights has investigated and closed.
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Within the last week, The Boston Globe has reported that venerable Boston Children’s Hospital, the primary pediatric teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School, has notified the public media and affected individuals of a large PHI security breach that occurred in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
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On March 30, 2012, a large data security breach, which has not yet been posted on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services list of breaches of unsecured PHI, was experienced by the Utah Department of Technology Services on a computer server that stores Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program claims data.
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