Health Law Matters

HIPAA Violation Penalties Reach New Record in 2018

The Week In Health Law

  • The Office of Civil Rights (“OCR”), which enforces the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (“HIPAA”), announced that it settled ten cases in 2018 and was granted summary judgment in another, collecting $28.7 million in payments. This exceeded OCR’s previous record year of $23.5 million.
  • The final settlement of the year occurred in December, when Cottage Health, which operates four hospitals in California, agreed to pay $3 million. The settlement was based on two notifications Cottage Health provided to OCR regarding breaches of protected health information (“PHI”).
  • The first breach concerned PHI on a Cottage Health server that was accessible from the internet, without needing a user name or password. The other breach involved a misconfigured server, which again exposed unsecured PHI over the internet.
  • OCR’s investigation indicated a lack of a HIPAA risk assessment, insufficient security measures, no periodic evaluations of security, and no business associate agreement with at least one contractor that maintained PHI on behalf of Cottage Health.

More trending Health Law topics this week:

  • Multiple Providers Pay Millions in Fraud and Stark Settlements

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Attorney Spotlight

Alex S. Fisher is a senior associate with an emphasis in health care related boards, including the Tennessee Board of Medical Examiners and the Tennessee Board of Nursing. Alex is also currently a faculty member at the Vanderbilt Center for Professional Health.