Earlier this week, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office for Civil Rights (OCR) announced two, multimillion dollar settlements relating to “potential” privacy and security violations of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). Both settlements stem from the entity’s reports to OCR of the thefts of unencrypted laptops containing electronic protected health information (ePHI) even though one of the laptops was password protected.
First, on March 16, 2016, OCR announced that North Memorial Health Care of Minnesota agreed to pay $1,550,000 to settle potential violations of the HIPAA Privacy and Security Rules after a laptop containing the ePHI of 9,497 individuals was stolen from the vehicle of one of its contractors in July 2011.
OCR’s subsequent investigation determined that North Memorial failed to enter into a business associate agreement with this contractor, as required under the HIPAA Privacy and Security Rules. The investigation also discovered that North Memorial failed to conduct an organization-wide risk analysis to address all of the risks and vulnerabilities to its ePHI. OCR concluded Continue reading