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HHS Coming Down Harder on Healthcare Privacy Violations

Jaclyn Jaeger | June 10, 2014

The Department of Health and Human Services is issuing a stern warning to healthcare providers to take patient privacy issues seriously or suffer hefty fines and penalties.

The healthcare regulator issued its largest monetary penalty last month for privacy violations under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act since the law’s enactment 18 years ago. With the new HIPAA compliance audit program set to launch in the coming months, more frequent enforcement actions and larger fines may become the new normal.

HHS’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) fined New York and Presbyterian Hospital and Columbia University a record total $4.8 million for HIPAA violations on May 7. NYP will pay $3.3 million, while CU will pay $1.5 million.

CU faculty members frequently serve as attending physicians at NYP, and both organizations operate a shared data network, which links to NYP patient information systems, and a shared network firewall that is administered by...

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