According to the 2022 State of Ransomware Report issued recently by Sophos, it surveyed 5,600 IT professionals from 31 countries, including professionals in the health care sector. Those professionals in the health care sector shared that 66 percent of them had experienced a ransomware attack in 2021, which was an increase of 69 percent over 2020. This was the largest increase of all sectors surveyed.

Continue Reading Privacy Tip – Health Care Sector Continues to Be Hit with Ransomware

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) recently issued new guidance (Guidance) on the use of remote communication technologies to deliver audio-only telehealth in accordance with HIPAA. Per OCR, the Guidance is intended to ensure continued access for patients to audio-only telehealth in a secure and compliant manner, particularly once OCR’s notification of enforcement discretion (previously discussed here) tied to the COVID-19 pandemic is rescinded (i.e., once the HHS-declared COVID-19 public health emergency is ended).

Continue Reading HHS Issues HIPAA Guidance to Support Audio-Only Telehealth Services

Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont signed the Personal Data Privacy and Online Monitoring Act (CPDPA) into law on May 10, 2022, making Connecticut the most recent state to pass its own privacy law in the absence of comprehensive federal privacy legislation. Connecticut follows in the steps of Nevada, California, Virginia, Colorado and Utah in enacting its own comprehensive privacy legislation, with more pending in various state legislatures.

Continue Reading Connecticut’s Privacy Law Signed by Governor

On February 28, 2022, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) issued data on information blocking claims received since April 5, 2021, the effective date of information blocking regulations enacted under the 21st Century Cures Act (Cures Act). As a reminder, in accordance with the Cures Act’s prohibition on certain information blocking practices, in 2020 ONC issued a pair of rules (available here and here) to implement information blocking regulations (now found at 45 CFR Part 171).  Due to COVID-related delays, ONC ultimately set a compliance date for such regulations of April 5, 2021. ONC is now sharing preliminary data on the information blocking claims received for the first time.
Continue Reading ONC Information Blocking Data Show Majority of Claims Against Health Care Providers

A federal district court in Montana has confirmed that HIPAA precludes a private right of action for patients to claim an unauthorized access, use, or disclosure of protected health information.  Nonetheless, the court denied the defendant covered entity’s motion to dismiss the complaint, holding that the plaintiff could move forward with state-specific claims of invasion of privacy, negligence, negligent infliction of emotional distress, and violation of Montana’s Consumer Protection Act because the federal law does not bar the suit under state law. The court held that, although HIPAA does not allow private lawsuits to be brought for unauthorized disclosure of health information, it does not preempt state law remedies that offer stronger protections than HIPAA.
Continue Reading No Private Right of Action under HIPAA, but State Law Claims May Still be Asserted

The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) recently announced that it has entered into the 20th settlement under its Right of Access Initiative. The settlement with Children’s Hospital and Medical Center in Nebraska includes an $80,000 payment by the hospital for failing to provide a mother with timely access to her daughter’s medical records.

According

On June 16, and then on July 6, 2021, Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont signed into law a pair of bills that together address privacy and cybersecurity in the state. As cybersecurity risks continue to pose a significant threat to businesses and the integrity of private information, Connecticut joins other states in revisiting its data breach reporting laws to strengthen reporting requirements, and offer protection to businesses that have been the subject of a breach despite implementing cybersecurity safeguards from certain damages in resulting litigation.

Public Act 21-59 “An Act Concerning Data Privacy Breaches” (PA 21-59) modifies Connecticut law addressing data privacy breaches to expand the types of information that are protected in the event of a breach, to shorten the timeframe for reporting a breach, to clarify applicability of the law to anyone who owns, licenses, or maintains computerized data that includes “personal information,” and to create an exception for entities that report breaches in accordance with HIPAA. Public Act 21-119 “An Act Incentivizing the Adoption of Cybersecurity Standards for Businesses” (PA 21-119) correspondingly establishes statutory protection from punitive damages in a tort action alleging that inadequate cybersecurity controls resulted in a data breach against an entity covered by the law if the entity maintained a written cybersecurity program conforming to industry standards (as set forth in PA 21-119).

Both laws take effect October 1, 2021.
Continue Reading Connecticut Enacts Legislation to Incentivize Adoption of Cybersecurity Safeguards and Expand Breach Reporting Obligations

In a rare move, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has issued a warning to hospitals and health systems to prioritize the patching of a two-year-old vulnerability in picture archive communication systems (PACs). PACs are used for the exchange and storage of health scans and images, such as MRIs, CT Scans, breast imaging,

Last week, Diabetes, Endocrinology & Lipidology Center Inc. (DELC) of West Virginia reached a $5,000 settlement with the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) over  allegations that it failed to provide timely access to a patient’s health records. The OCR alleged that DELC waited more than two years to send a minor’s medical records to their

The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) last week announced a settlement with Peachstate Health Management LLC (aka AEON Clinical Laboratories) following a compliance review that uncovered alleged violations of HIPAA.

The settlement includes a $25,000 payment to OCR by Peachstate, a corrective action plan, and three years of monitoring by OCR.
Continue Reading OCR Announces Settlement with Clinical Lab for Alleged HIPAA Violations