8,918 HIPAA Violation Investigations Have Required Corrective Actions

Here are some important websites to bookmark for you to reference when you need help…beyond what I have on my blog and at my website :)…if you are a US Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Covered Entity (CE) or Business Associate (BA)…

A. “HITECH Breach Notification Interim Final Rule” background information
B. What you need to know and understand for breach notice compliance:
45 CFR Parts 160 and 164: Breach Notification for Unsecured Protected Health Information; Interim Final Rule
C. HIPAA Privacy Rule and Security Rule Enforcement Process
D. HIPAA Enforcement Highlights
And an interesting and important excerpt to note:

“Enforcement Results as of the Date of This Summary July 31, 2009”
HHS / OCR has investigated and resolved over 8,918 cases by requiring changes in privacy practices and other corrective actions by the covered entities.
Corrective actions obtained by HHS from these entities have resulted in change that is systemic and that affects all the individuals they serve. HHS has successfully enforced the Privacy Rule by applying corrective measures in all cases where an investigation indicates noncompliance by the covered entity. OCR has investigated complaints against many different types of entities including: national pharmacy chains, major medical centers, group health plans, hospital chains, and small provider offices.
In another 4,446 cases, our investigations found no violation had occurred.
In the rest of our completed cases (26,181), HHS determined that the complaint did not present an eligible case for enforcement of the Privacy Rule. These include cases in which:

  • OCR lacks jurisdiction under HIPAA – such as a complaint alleging a violation prior to the compliance date or alleging a violation by an entity not covered by the Privacy Rule;
  • the complaint is untimely, or withdrawn or not pursued by the filer;
  • the activity described does not violate the Rule – such as when the covered entity has disclosed protected health information in circumstances in which the Rule permits such a disclosure.

In summary, since the compliance date in April 2003, HHS has received over 45,630 HIPAA Privacy complaints. We have resolved over eighty percent of complaints received (over 39,545): through investigation and enforcement (over 8,918); through investigation and finding no violation (4,446); and through closure of cases that were not eligible for enforcement (26,181).
From the compliance date to the present, the compliance issues investigated most are, compiled cumulatively, in order of frequency:

  1. Impermissible uses and disclosures of protected health information;
  2. Lack of safeguards of protected health information;
  3. Lack of patient access to their protected health information;
  4. Uses or disclosures of more than the Minimum Necessary protected health information; and
  5. Lack of or invalid authorizations for uses and disclosures of protected health information.

The most common types of covered entities that have been required to take corrective action to achieve voluntary compliance are, in order of frequency:

  1. Private Practices;
  2. General Hospitals;
  3. Outpatient Facilities;
  4. Health Plans (group health plans and health insurance issuers); and,
  5. Pharmacies.

Enforcement activities are published each month on this OCR site.

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