HHS issues first-ever HIPAA fine to small organization, for portable device data breach

Share this article:
Experts: Push EHR progress even if feds won't help pay
Experts: Push EHR progress even if feds won't help pay

The importance of security and strategies for the use of portable technology for small health organizations came to the forefront last week when the Department of Health and Human Services acknowledged it will receive a $50,000 settlement from an Idaho organization. The agreement came after allegations the group lost a laptop with health information for 441 patients.

The action is the first for a breach of protected health information for fewer than 500 individuals under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Security Rule. The not-for-profit Hospice of North Idaho reported to the HHS Office for Civil Rights that an unencrypted laptop with patient information was stolen in June 2010.

OCR fined the hospice because it did not conduct a security risk analysis or have policies or procedures to address portable device security. The HIPAA regulation is meant to safeguard electronic patient health information.

Also, the hospice did not implement security measures to address the loss of patient health data or manage that risk. A federal official said that covered entities, regardless of size, must take action and will be held accountable for safeguarding patients' health information.

Since the incident, the Hayden-based Hospice of North Idaho has improved its HIPAA compliance program and entered a two-year corrective action plan as part of the settlement. The corrective action plan between OCR and the Hospice of North Idaho can be found here.

Share this article:

More in News

CMS updates coding instructions for hospice site of service, principal diagnosis

CMS updates coding instructions for hospice site of ...

A new Medicare hospice manual update includes instructions for which principal diagnosis codes are acceptable, and clarifies which codes should be used for services in a skilled versus non-skilled nursing ...

Vast majority of nursing home residents chronically constipated, and it's not well ...

Chronic constipation is highly prevalent in nursing homes and not well controlled, leading to a high likelihood that residents develop fecal impaction, according to findings from a first-of-its kind study.

Federal judge dismisses nursing home 'kickback' case; upholds large X-ray company's 'swapping' ...

The way mobile x-ray company Mobilex bills nursing homes is acceptable, a federal judge recently determined. Mobilex is the nation's largest provider of mobile diagnostic services. It had been facing whistleblower charges that it effectively paid kickbacks to nursing homes through an arrangement known as ...