OCR Announces Two Settlements to Resolve Potential HIPAA Violations.

Date posted: May 3, 2016

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) recently announced two high profile settlements involving the unauthorized disclosure of protected health information (PHI).  Both settlements signal the importance of implementing appropriate safeguards to prevent violations to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

New York Presbyterian Hospital (NYP) paid OCR $2.2 million for failing to obtain authorization before allowing television crews to film two patients for the show “NY Med.”  One patient filmed was dying, while the other was suffering from significant distress.  Further, NYP granted the film crews broad access to its facility, which rendered safeguarding PHI from film crews and staff nearly impossible.  As part of the settlement, OCR will monitor NYP for two years to ensure HIPAA compliance.

Raleigh Orthopaedic Clinic, P.A. of North Carolina (Raleigh Orthopaedic) will pay OCR $750,000 for impermissibly transferring x-ray films and PHI of 17,300 patients to a potential business partner.  Significantly, Raleigh Orthopaedic failed to complete a business associate agreement (BAA) with the other entity prior to sharing the information.  OCR further mandated that Raleigh Orthopaedic develop a robust system to ensure that it: (1) executes BAAs before disclosing PHI; and (2) limits disclosures to the minimum necessary information.  Raleigh Orthopaedic must also establish a process to maintain BAAs for at least six years beyond termination.

OCR HIPAA News Releases & Bulletins are available at:

http://www.hhs.gov/hipaa/newsroom/index.html

Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights.  “Unauthorized Filming for ‘NY Med’ Results in $2.2 Million Settlement with New York Presbyterian Hospital.”  Press Release.  21 Apr. 2016.

Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights.  “$750,000 Settlement Highlights the Need for HIPAA Business Associate Agreements.”  Press Release.  19 Apr. 2016.

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