Patient Privacy

US Department of Health and Human Services fines Arizona provider $100,000 for HIPAA violations

In a rare enforcement action of HIPAA, HHS fined an Arizona health care provider $100,000 for a variety of HIPAA violations, especially regarding electronic exchanges of protected health information. The HHS document outlining the reasons for the fine should act as a wake-up call to health care providers using public email, calendaring, and other tools for communication of ePHI. HHS specifically noted that the fined health care provider did not conduct an adequate risk assessment prior to using the email and Internet tools. The full HHS document is a must-read for health care providers. WPF has been warning about the need for full e-risk assessments since 2005 and strongly advocates for medical-identity-theft-specific risk assessments.

Public Comments: September 2010 – Joint comments on the Proposed Modifications to the HIPAA Privacy, Security, and Enforcement Rules under HITECH

In our view, the Department’s proposed changes to HIPAA regarding marketing are contrary to the law. Current law requires that paid communications for any marketing should be allowed only on an opt-in basis. We oppose the Department’s proposed regulation that would allow communications paid for by third parties who are not the entities whose product or service is being described in the communication.