HIPAA Fines Are Real & You Should Be Cautious!

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Ask Your Primary Care Provider How They Are Protecting Your Health Information!

While the holiday season is quickly coming to an end, winter is here to stay for at least another three more months. Unfortunately, we all know how unsatisfying it is to come down with the common cold during this time of year. Although taking a trip into your primary care provider may be a quick and painless process it’s important to ask them if your personal information is being properly protected… The same goes for that standard email platform you are using to send sensitive information on!

HIPAA Violation Settlements Aren't Worth The Headache

The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) issued numerous statements of HIPAA violations during the months of October and November of this year. They secured a $2.175 million HIPAA settlement after Sentara Hospitals failed to properly notify the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) of a breach within the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 or (HIPAA). Sentara is comprised of 12 critical care hospitals with more than 300 sites spanned throughout Virginia and North Carolina.

Universities Are Getting Hit With HIPAA Fines Too!

The University of Rochester Medical Center in New York has been subject to HIPAA fines as well. They recently agreed to a $3 million settlement that stemmed from incidents in 2013 and 2017. The OCR found that URMC had invalidly disclosed protected health information (PHI) due to the loss of an unencrypted flash drive and the theft of an unencrypted laptop. The OCR’s investigation led to the understanding that URMC had unsuccessfully maintained HIPAA laws which led to their $3 million fine.

Hospitals, Health Agencies, And Universities Aren’t The Only Establishments Getting Hit With These Fines!

The Texas Health and Human Services Agency (TX HHCS) has been forced to pay a $1.6 million civil money penalty for also violating HIPAA laws and regulations. TX HHCS, who operates state-wide living centers, provides mental health and substance use services, maintains child care and nursing facilities, and administers many programs for people who need assistance from nutritional benefits and Medicaid. Breached HIPAA laws by leaking more than 6,000 individuals electronically protected health information or (ePHI) over the internet. 

Hospitals, health agencies, and universities aren’t the only establishments getting hit with these fines, Elite Dental Associates, a dental practice in Dallas, Texas have agreed to pay a $10,000 fine to the OCR stemming from an incident involving a patient on June 5, 2016. The patient had alleged that Elite had disclosed personal information on social media that included their name and health condition. Upon further investigation, the OCR had found that Elite was releasing the (PHI) of multiple patients in response to user reviews on the Elite Yelp review page.    

PHI Is Nothing To Mess Around With!

It should have been clear that revealing PHI on a social media platform is simply not ethical nor legal however, Elite Dental Associates did so anyways. The point is, you can never be too careful when you are protecting your sensitive information. That is why it is very important to ask your health provider how they are protecting your PHI and how they are distributing it to other healthcare practices you are associated with!

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Sending personal information over a non-secure email platform could potentially produce the same consequences, especially if you are a healthcare provider. This is why you should always be sending PHI over a secure email platform such as NeoCertified.

 

NeoCertified uses a compliance-centric secure email solution to protect personal information regardless of what platform you are using. All you have to do is download the plug-in or use our website portal to send sensitive information!

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