Healthcare providers have heard the HIPAA disaster stories: a laptop containing patient information is left on the counter at the coffee shop; a thumb drive with patient files goes missing; a rogue employee accesses patient information she has no business accessing; hackers get into a practice’s server and hold the patient information for ransom.
HIPAA is a federal law designed for safe disclosure of patient’s protected health information. The news headlines showcase giant penalties for violations. However, Florida health care providers should also know that Florida has its own consumer protection statute, called the Florida Information Protection Act. So while you’re busy worrying about your HIPAA exposure in any of these situations, remember that there is potential State exposure as well.
So what should a healthcare provider do if it believes there has been a hack or some other unauthorized disclosure? Responses vary based on the situation presented, but below is a good jumping off point: Continue reading →
The US Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Civil Rights is the chief enforcer of HIPAA. The Office’s recent enforcement of HIPAA with respect to a Massachusetts derm practice is illustrative of how the government views HIPAA and how vulnerable medical practices are. Continue reading →
The final HITECH Act rule was published on January 25th, and it includes revisions to HIPAA. The two things affected by the new rule are (1) compound authorizations, and (2) authorizations for future research.
Compound authorizations are basically authorizations for two separate uses of protected health information (PHI). The new rule allows combining an authorization for a research study with any other written permission for the same study, such as authorization to participate in the research. The core elements of a valid authorization remain in place. The intent is just to provide some flexibility in clinical research settings.
Traditionally, authorizations had to be study specific. The new rule allows authorizations not to be study specific, but they have to describe future uses or disclosures in a way that patients will understand that their PHI could be used in future research.