All posts in HHS

Is a Ransomware Attack a HIPAA Data Breach?

Daniel Solove
Founder of TeachPrivacy

Ransomware - Security Awareness Training

As ransomware escalates and poses serious security risks for healthcare institutions, many privacy experts and legislators have called for more specific guidance from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

A few weeks ago, HHS responded to these calls with a detailed fact sheet to explain ransomware and provide advice.  Although most of the document outlines what should be obvious for an organization that already has a solid data security plan (including reliable back-ups, workforce training, and contingency plans), the major headline is HHS’s verdict on whether or not a ransomware attack qualifies as a data breach under HIPAA.

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HIPAA’s Long Arm — and Why It’s a Good Thing

Daniel Solove
Founder of TeachPrivacy

HIPAA Training

Recently, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) issued its first resolution agreement and monetary penalty against a business associate (BA).

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Is HIPAA Enforcement Too Lax?

Daniel Solove
Founder of TeachPrivacy

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By Daniel J. Solove

ProPublica has been running a series of lengthy articles about HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR) enforcement that are worth reading.

A Sustained and Vigorous Critique of OCR HIPAA Enforcement

A ProPublica article from early in 2015 noted that HIPAA fines were quite rare. The article noted that from 2009 through 2014, more than 1,140 large data breaches were reported to OCR, affecting 41 million people. Another 120,000 HIPAA violations were reported affecting fewer than 500 people. “Yet, over that time span,” the article notes, “the Office for Civil Rights has fined health care organizations just 22 times. . . . By comparison, the California Department of Public Health . . . imposed 22 penalties last year alone.”

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Blogging Highlights 2015: Health Privacy+Security Issues

Daniel Solove
Founder of TeachPrivacy

HIPAA Training

I’ve been going through my blog posts from 2015 to find the ones I most want to highlight.  Here are some selected posts about health privacy and security:

Why HIPAA Matters: Medical ID Theft and the
Human Cost of Health Privacy and Security Incidents

care

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Lessons from the Latest HIPAA Enforcement Action

Daniel Solove
Founder of TeachPrivacy

HIPAA Training OCR Enforcementby Daniel J. Solove

Recently, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) publicized its resolution agreement in its HIPAA enforcement action against St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center (SEMC).  SEMC agreed to pay $218,000.

The case began with a complaint filed with OCR back in 2012 that employees were sharing PHI of nearly 500 patients via an online sharing application without a risk analysis on such activities being undertaken.  OCR investigation found that the medical center “failed to timely identify and respond to the known security incident, mitigate the harmful effects of the security incident and document the security incident and its outcome.”

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New Resource Page: HIPAA Training Requirements FAQ

Daniel Solove
Founder of TeachPrivacy

HIPAA Training Requirements Whiteboard 02

by Daniel J. Solove

I recently created a new resource page for the TeachPrivacy website: HIPAA Training Requirements: FAQ.

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New Resource Page: Text of HIPAA’s Training Requirements

Daniel Solove
Founder of TeachPrivacy

HIPAA Training Requirements Text 01

by Daniel J. Solove

I recently created a new resource page for the TeachPrivacy website: Text of HIPAA’s Training Requirements.  This page provides excerpts of the training provisions in the HIPAA Privacy Rule and the HIPAA Security Rule.

This page is designed to be a useful companion page to our resource page, HIPAA Training Requirements: FAQ.  The FAQ discuss my interpretation of the HIPAA training provisions, but the full text of those provisions is located on the separate new resource page above.

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Health Data Security in Crisis, Phase 2 Audits, and Other HIPAA Privacy + Security Updates

Daniel Solove
Founder of TeachPrivacy

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By Daniel J. Solove

Co-authored with Professor Paul Schwartz

This post is part of a post series where we round up some of the interesting news and resources we’re finding. We have split the health/HIPAA material from our updates on other topics. To see our updates for other topics, click here.

For a PDF version of this post, and for archived issues of previous posts, click here.

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The Health Data Breach and ID Theft Epidemic

Daniel Solove
Founder of TeachPrivacy

Title image

By Daniel J. Solove

When you go to the hospital, you might worry about catching a staph infection or pneumonia, but you should also worry about contracting a nasty case of medical identity theft. Most people suffer significant harm from medical ID theft, and few are completely cured. This ailment is spreading dramatically as data spurts out of healthcare organizations these days as if from a ruptured aorta.

In January of this year, an article citing U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) statistics noted that in the past 5 years, there have been roughly 120,000 reported data breaches involving HIPAA protected health information. These breaches have involved more than 31 million individuals.

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The Most Alarming Fact of the HIPAA Audits

Daniel Solove
Founder of TeachPrivacy

hipaa audits 1

law blog 2

by Daniel J. Solove

Are privacy and security laws being enforced effectively? This post is post #5 of a series called Enforcing Privacy and Security Laws.

Under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), various organizations can be randomly selected to be audited – even if no complaint has been issued against them and even if there has been no privacy incident or breach.

What the audits thus far have revealed is quite alarming. I’ll discuss more on that later.

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The Brave New World of HIPAA Enforcement

Daniel Solove
Founder of TeachPrivacy

hipaa enforcement

law blog 2

by Daniel J. Solove

Are privacy and security laws being enforced effectively? This post is post #4 of a series called Enforcing Privacy and Security Laws.

hhs logoThe Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) regulations govern health information maintained by various entities covered by HIPAA (“covered entities”) and other organizations that receive health information from covered entities when performing functions for them. HIPAA is enforced by the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Additionally, state attorneys general (AGs) may enforce HIPAA – only a few federal privacy laws can also be enforced by state AGs.

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Waking Up the C-Suite to Privacy and Security Risks

Daniel Solove
Founder of TeachPrivacy

waking up the c suite

by Daniel J. Solove

I was recently interviewed in the Journal of AHIMA on how the C-suite is waking up to the new realities of privacy and data security risks. Before the HITECH Act in 2009, HIPAA enforcement was based on a cooperative model where HHS was not punitive in its approach. Now, big fines are being issued. There is auditing. The climate has changed.

Privacy and security risks are quite costly. This is true not just under HIPAA, but also as a general matter. At many organizations, the C-Suite doesn’t fully appreciate the magnitude of the risk. Back about 10 years ago, for many organizations, privacy and security risks were barely on the radar. Now they are recognized for many organizations, but the significance of the risk is often not fully understood or appreciated.

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The Battle for Leadership in Education Privacy Law: Will California Seize the Throne?

Daniel Solove
Founder of TeachPrivacy

Blank chalkboard and stack of books

by Daniel J. Solove

This post was co-authored by Professor Paul Schwartz, Berkeley Law School.

Education was one of the first areas where privacy was regulated by a federal statute. Passed in the early 1970s, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) was on the frontier of federal privacy regulation. But now it is old and ineffective. With the growing public concern about the privacy of student data, states are starting to rev up their engines and become more involved. The result could be game-changing legislation for the multi-billion dollar education technology industry.

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