As we look toward the end of a tumultuous year, it is incumbent on all those who are involved in the fight against COVID-19 to consider what was learned, acknowledge where efforts went wrong, celebrate collective achievements, and transition the provision of medicine to comport with the ever-changing needs of patients.» Read More
As COVID-19 swab (PCR) and blood (antibody) testing continue to occur in greater numbers and diverse settings, it is important to recognize that the results of such tests are subject to HIPAA privacy and security compliance rules. There is a common public misconception that the declaration of a public health emergency has created a broad exception for covered entities and business associates to use and share COVID-19 testing results.» Read More
Medical offices throughout the country are being targeted for the conversion of their data for illegal purposes. Most of what we hear about in the news concerns data breaches experienced by large corporations, involving information belonging to millions of individuals. Although these breaches affect many more people, they make privacy efforts of individual and group practitioners no less important.» Read More
With the passage of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, business associates became directly liable for certain privacy and security requirements under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Business associates are those individuals or entities (other than employees) who perform functions or activities on behalf of, or provide certain services to, covered entities which require access to protected health information (PHI).» Read More
Do you have a HIPAA Business Associate Agreement (“BAA”) in place with all your vendors who have access to your patients’ Protected Health Information (“PHI”)? If not, you may be exposing your practice to a significant monetary penalty. On December 4, 2018, the United States Department of Health and Human Services Office of Civil Rights released a statement revealing they have reached a $500,000 settlement with a Florida hospitalist group for disclosing PHI to a vendor with whom they did not have a HIPAA BAA. » Read More
In a recent case, Filefax, a medical record storage, maintenance, and delivery company, paid the US Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Civil Rights (“OCR”) $100,000 to settle claims of HIPAA violations even after the company went out of business. » Read More
Generally, when using or disclosing an individual’s Protected Health Information (“PHI”), HIPAA regulations require the covered entity to obtain an authorization from an individual, including for research purposes. The Office of Civil Rights (“OCR”), the entity that enforces HIPAA compliance, recently issued guidance for situations when an entity obtains an authorization from an individual for use and disclosure of PHI for research, focusing on the following topics:
Sufficient Description – HIPAA regulations require that the authorization, in plain language, provide “a description of each purpose of the requested use or disclosure.