Hurricane Harvey HIPAA Reminder

Disasters, which can ultimately lead to a data breach, come in various forms – natural, man-made and technical. HIPAA, the HITECH Act, the Federal Trade Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission are just a handful of entities requiring that the confidentiality, integrity and availability of the sensitive information (e.g., protected health information (PHI) and personally identifiable information (PII)) remain intact. Although federal HIPAA has distinct categories (e.g., covered entity, business associate, and subcontractor), other state or federal government entities use “covered entity” to mean any person that creates, receives, maintains or transmits PHI or PII.

HIPAA sets forth three main categories of safeguards: administrative, physical, and technical safeguards. Often times, these categories overlap. For example, the administrative requirement of a sanction policy compliments the physical requirement of two-factor identification for building access.

Below are a couple of select sections from the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), which organizations should be particularly vigilant about in relation to disasters.

•45 CFR §164.310 (Physical) – requires that policies and procedures for facility access in order to restore lost data under the disaster recovery and emergency access plan.

•45 CFR §164.308 (Administrative Safeguards) – multiple requirements are set forth under this particular section of the CFR. For example:

•Security management process

•Annual risk analysis

•Information activity review

•Workforce clearance procedure

•Security awareness training

•Contingency plan

 

Read More: http://snip.ly/duepz#http://www.diagnosticimaging.com/blog/hurricane-harvey-hipaa-reminder

Beyond the HIPAA Privacy Rule: Enhancing Privacy, Improving Health Through Research.

The Value and Importance of Health Information Privacy

Ethical health research and privacy protections both provide valuable benefits to society. Health research is vital to improving human health and health care. Protecting patients involved in research from harm and preserving their rights is essential to ethical research. The primary justification for protecting personal privacy is to protect the interests of individuals. In contrast, the primary justification for collecting personally identifiable health information for health research is to benefit society. But it is important to stress that privacy also has value at the societal level, because it permits complex activities, including research and public health activities to be carried out in ways that protect individuals’ dignity. At the same time, health research can benefit individuals, for example, when it facilitates access to new therapies, improved diagnostics, and more effective ways to prevent illness and deliver care.

The intent of this chapter1 is to define privacy and to delineate its importance to individuals and society as a whole. The value and importance of health research will be addressed in Chapter 3.

CONCEPTS AND VALUE OF PRIVACY

Definitions

Privacy has deep historical roots (reviewed by Pritts, 2008Westin, 1967), but because of its complexity, privacy has proven difficult to define and has been the subject of extensive, and often heated, debate by philosophers, sociologists, and legal scholars. The term “privacy” is used frequently, yet there is no universally accepted definition of the term, and confusion persists over the meaning, value, and scope of the concept of privacy. At its core, privacy is experienced on a personal level and often means different things to different people (reviewed by Lowrance, 1997Pritts, 2008). In modern society, the term is used to denote different, but overlapping, concepts such as the right to bodily integrity or to be free from intrusive searches or surveillance. The concept of privacy is also context specific, and acquires a different meaning depending on the stated reasons for the information being gathered, the intentions of the parties involved, as well as the politics, convention and cultural expectations (Nissenbaum, 2004NRC, 2007b).

Our report, and the Privacy Rule itself, are concerned with health informational privacy. In the context of personal information, concepts of privacy are closely intertwined with those of confidentiality and security. However, although privacy is often used interchangeably with the terms “confidentiality” and “security,” they have distinct meanings.Privacy addresses the question of who has access to personal information and under what conditions. Privacy is concerned with the collection, storage, and use of personal information, and examines whether data can be collected in the first place, as well as the justifications, if any, under which data collected for one purpose can be used for another (secondary)2 purpose. An important issue in privacy analysis is whether the individual has authorized particular uses of his or her personal information (Westin, 1967).

Confidentiality safeguards information that is gathered in the context of an intimate relationship. It addresses the issue of how to keep information exchanged in that relationship from being disclosed to third parties (Westin, 1976). Confidentiality, for example, prevents physicians from disclosing information shared with them by a patient in the course of a physician–patient relationship. Unauthorized or inadvertent disclosures of data gained as part of an intimate relationship are breaches of confidentiality (Gostin and Hodge, 2002NBAC, 2001).

 

Read More: http://snip.ly/tlhw0#https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK9579/

 

Hipaa—Should I Be Worried?

This ongoing column is dedicated to providing information to our readers on managing legal risks associated with medical practice. We invite questions from our readers. The answers are provided by PRMS, Inc.  a manager of medical professional liability insurance programs with services that include risk management consultation, education and onsite risk management audits, and other resources to healthcare providers to help improve patient outcomes and reduce professional liability risk. The answers published in this column represent those of only one risk management consulting company. Other risk management consulting companies or insurance carriers may provide different advice, and readers should take this into consideration. The information in this column does not constitute legal advice. For legal advice, contact your personal attorney. Note: The information and recommendations in this article are applicable to physicians and other healthcare professionals so “clinician” is used to indicate all treatment team members.

QUESTION

I have been hearing about the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) for years, but I have not heard of very much enforcement by the government. Do I really need to be concerned about being found liable for HIPAA violations?

ANSWER

Yes. While it is true that the federal government’s enforcement of HIPAA’s Privacy and Security Rules has been limited in the past, this will no longer be true in the future.

OVERVIEW OF HIPAA ENFORCEMENT

Healthcare providers required to comply with HIPAA, a federal statute, are subject to enforcement actions for violations of the Privacy Rule1 and the Security Rule,2 federal regulations enacted under the HIPAA statute. The Office for Civil Rights (OCR), an agency within the Department of Health and Human Services, is responsible for civil enforcement of the Privacy Rule and the Security Rule. OCR can impose civil monetary penalties on covered entities up to $50,000 or more per violation, with an annual cap of $1.5 million for identical violations. The Department of Justice (DOJ) is responsible for the investigation and prosecution of criminal violations of the HIPAA regulations. Under HIPAA, the maximum criminal penalties are $250,000 and 10 years imprisonment.

 

Read More: http://snip.ly/ojh0m#https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3552464/

Gauteng Health head office: Sheriff attaches furniture due to non-payment of negligence claim

Gauteng Health head office

Staff at the Gauteng Department of Health provincial head office are without equipment to do their work after the Sheriff of the Court attached two truckloads of furniture on Thursday following a failure by the department to pay court-ordered damages related to a hospital negligence case. By ORATENG LEPODISE.

If you walk into several offices at the provincial health department’s head office at the Bank of Lisbon building in downtown Johannesburg, you are likely to find administrative staff sitting on the floor.

On Thursday the sheriff arrived at the offices and removed two truckloads of furniture from four floors in the building in a bid to force the department to settle payment of a R6.2-million negligence claim awarded against it.

The negligence claim relates to a protracted legal battle between the department and the parents of a child who suffered brain damage during birth at the Pholosong Hospital in December 2009. The seven-year legal battle drew to a close on March 8 with a cost order being awarded against the department.

But it is yet to settle.

“It is a terrible injustice that this case has dragged on for more than seven years, with further suffering for the child and her family, and now the department delays further,” said Jack Bloom, the DA’s Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health.

On Thursday, according to the writ of attachment, the sheriff removed:

• 400 desks;

• 600 chairs
;

• 400 computers;

• 200 filing cabinets
;

• 50 printers
;

• 10 fridges;

• 10 microwaves; and

• three lounge suites

Asked by Daily Maverick to comment on the attachment of its furniture, its impact on the health department staff to do their work and on the department’s failure to pay the negligence claim, department spokesman Prince Hamnca said: “All I am willing to say is that we are concerned that the furniture has been taken from the offices, but that was a court order from the Sheriff.”

“I am appalled that the department has yet again disregarded a court-ordered payment,” said Bloom, while accusing the Gauteng Health MEC, Gwen Ramokgopa, of downplaying the effect of the removal of truckloads of furniture.

An employee at the department and branch secretary of the National Health, Education and Allied Workers Union, Charles Phasa, said the working conditions were “very bad” as everything with any value was taken.

“This is not something new. Every year the sheriff comes in and the department waits until the 11th hour to negotiate some sort of way to cover their payments, but this time around it is just too much,” Phasa said.

According to Phasa the department has urged its workers to be patient while it attempted to address the issue.

The health department finds itself in a pool of debt which includes outstanding payments to suppliers and medical negligence cases and in May this year faced a R10.9-billion funding gap as budgeted funds were all taken up by salaries, accumulated debt and payments for negligence.

Medical negligence claims have increased significantly in recent years. From just over R8-million paid out by the Gauteng Department of Health in 2010/11, almost R154-million was paid out by the same department in 2013/14. Contingent liabilities for medical malpractice (money that the department would have to pay should all medical negligence claimants be successful in their claims) in 2016 in Gauteng sat at over R13-billion.

Bloom said the Gauteng Provincial Government was being destabilised by the endless financial woes of the Health Department, which faces a potential medico-legal liability of more than R13-billion and owes large sums to suppliers as well.

“Delays in payment also add to the costs as a 10.5% penalty interest is charged – in this case, this amounts to more than R300,000,” Bloom said. DM

Photo: Gauteng premier David Makhura speaks at a Gauteng township economy revitalisation summit in Soweto, Tuesday, 7 October 2014. Picture: Werner Beukes/SAPA

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