In another case of a breach reported to HHS Office for Civil Rights (“OCR”), a HIPAA covered health care provider, the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary and Massachusetts Eye and Ear Associates, Inc. (collectively, “MEEI”), has settled charges of potential HIPAA security rule violations. MEEI agreed (i) to pay $1.5 million and (ii) to take corrective action to improve policies and procedures to safeguard the privacy and security of its patients’ protected health information.
As in the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) case, an unencrypted electronic storage device was stolen, the covered entity reported the breach, OCR investigated the breach and broader compliance with HIPAA's privacy and security rules, and found potential violations.
For more information about the MEEI incident, click here.
This kind of enforcement activity could be lucrative for cash-strapped federal and state agencies. It is no wonder that some states are amending their statutes to require Attorney General notification. Accordingly, because data breaches can and will occur, HIPAA covered entities and businesses subject to HIPAA and state data breach notification statutes should be doing more to prepare for the audit that may follow the reporting of a data breach. That is, they should be doing more to safeguard personal information and PHI pursuant to the applicable standards.