Healthcare News & Insights

Recent settlements show cost of HIPAA violations

The feds are constantly on the lookout for HIPAA violations “ and one high-profile case involving a reality show filmed at a hospital shows just how costly they can be for facilities.

GettyImages-480940200Last year, New York Presbyterian Hospital came under fire while it was in the midst of filming NY Med, a show chronicling the real-life efforts of providers to treat patients in its emergency department.

Per a press release, the agency accused the hospital of committing an egregious HIPAA violation by letting the NY Med film crew have essentially unrestricted access to film what went on in the hospital. That meant patients™ protected health information (PHI), including their images, wasn safeguarded well enough.

New York Presbyterian opted to settle the charges for a hefty sum: $2.2 million.

As part of the settlement, the OCR will monitor the hospital for two years to make sure it stays compliant with HIPAA laws.In a statement sent to Bloomberg about the incident, the hospital insisted that the filming didn violate any privacy laws and that it entered the settlement śto bring closure to OCR review process.ť

However, this situation serves as a sobering reminder to hospitals that any images taken of patients for media or marketing purposes must be used with the person explicit consent “ even if the person may not be readily identifiable at first glance. Erring on the side of caution is a facility’s best bet for avoiding problems.

Enforcementactions

The OCR cracking down on facilities for other HIPAA violations, too. agency settled with Raleigh Orthopaedic Clinic for $750,000 due to its failure to establish a business associate agreement before disclosing the PHI of over 17,000 patients to a potential business partner.

Thethat it has launched Phase 2 of its HIPAA audit program, meaning more facilities could land in its crosshairs soon for privacy issues both large and small.

Now the time to make sure all your policies regarding patients™ PHI meet federal standards and that all your facility efforts to protect confidential patient information are documented in writing. It also important that patients understand their full rights under HIPAA and that the information is disclosed to them clearly and concisely.

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