Posted on August 6th, 2013 No comments
What is HIPAA?
Signed into federal law in 1996, HIPAA was created to combat fraud and abuse in the health insurance industry. The Act stipulates that all United States health care organizations must “maintain reasonable and appropriate, technical, and physical safeguards to prevent intentional or unintentional use or disclosure of protected health information.”
HIPAA protection attaches to all information relating “to the past, present, or future physical or mental health or condition of an individual, or the past, present, or future payment for the provision of healthcare.” Materials that would contain such protected information include patient histories, logs, notes, forms, billing and insurance information, and any other records containing personal information in the possession of healthcare providers.
Who is affected by HIPAA?
Regardless of size, all healthcare providers in the United States must have documented policies defining reasonable measures that are being taken to protect personal health information and ensure the organization is protecting against unauthorized access to personal information.
This includes all organizations or individuals who retain and/or collect health-related information, such as: hospitals, medical centers, insurance companies, billing centers, collection agencies, doctors, dentists, chiropractors, psychiatrists, psychologists and any other institutions or individuals responsible for personal health-related information.
Posted on June 25th, 2013 No comments
Miami resident Cristobal Raul Puig was sentenced to 31 months in federal prison yesterday for his role in a Baptist Health South Florida tax fraud scheme.
According to justice.gov, Puig had previously pled guilty to one count of possessing 15 or more Social Security numbers of other persons that he paired with names and dates of birth for one count of attempting to impersonate another person. Puig had acquired the hospital patient names, dates of birth, social security numbers and addresses from a Baptist Health System’s West Kendall employee.
Puig then used the patient data (he was in possession of a list of 20 total) to file unauthorized income tax returns. He was also arrested in 2012 for theft. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Maurice A. Johnson.
Baptist Health also owns South Miami Hospital, which has experienced its own breach troubles of lately. Florida in general is having serious problems with patient data security and perhaps this sentence will deter would-be hackers and thieves from stealing patient data.
Foundations Recovery Network Breach
Foundations Recovery Network, headquartered in Nashville, Tenn., alerted an unknown number of patients that an employee laptop containing patient names, dates of birth, addresses, telephone numbers and Social Security numbers had been stolen. The device was password-protected but there didn’t appear to be any technical safeguards such as encryption. Here is the organization’s breach notification letter:
I am writing on behalf of Foundations Recovery Network to inform you of a recent privacy incident concerning your personal information. On Saturday, June 15, one of our employees informed us that she had been the victim of a burglary during the early morning hours on June 15 at approximately 2:45 a.m. and that her company laptop had been stolen. The laptop contained certain aspects of patient information which she needed as part of her role with our company. The employee reported the theft immediately to law enforcement authorities. We understand that the theft was one of several that took place in her neighborhood that night, so we do not believe the thief specifically targeted her or the laptop.
At this time, we do not know whether the information on the laptop has been accessed. It is important to note that the information is password protected. However, because the safety and security of your information is our utmost priority, we wanted to contact you out of an abundance of caution and make you aware of the situation. The potentially disclosed information may include your personal information (such as name, date of birth, address, telephone number and social security number) and medical information (such as diagnosis — the majority of which were listed in numeric medical code only, level of care, date of service, and health insurance information). We sincerely regret that this incident occurred.
Even though we have no reason to believe that your information has been accessed by anyone outside our organization at this time, and we do not believe any of your financial information is included on the stolen laptop, we want to make sure you are aware of the incident and have resources available to protect your personal information. Therefore, we have contracted with Experian to provide to you a free one year membership in Experian’ se ProtectMyIDe Alert. This product helps detect possible misuse of your personal information and provides you with identity protection services focused on immediate identification and resolution of identity theft. You may sign up for this service by following the instructions on the last page of this letter in Attachment B. You will be able to access this offer at no cost to you until October 31, 2013. See the attachments to this letter for more information regarding enrollment in Experian’ se ProtectMyIDe Alert and other measures you may want to take.
Again, maintaining the integrity of confidential information is extremely important to us. We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this incident has caused for you. Please be assured that we will keep you informed of any developments in the investigation that may be of importance to you. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at 888-312-3310.
Information from PHIPrivacy.net was used in this report.