On April 17, 2012, HHS announced that its Office for Civil Rights (OCR) settled a HIPAA violation case against a surgery practice in Arizona, for $100,000 and a Corrective Action Plan (CAP), which requires implementation of policies and procedures to prevent such HIPAA violations and breaches in the future.
Via HHS Press Release:
The incident giving rise to OCR’s investigation was a report that the physician practice was posting clinical and surgical appointments for its patients on an Internet-based calendar that was publicly accessible. On further investigation, OCR found that Phoenix Cardiac Surgery had implemented few policies and procedures to comply with the HIPAA Privacy and Security Rules, and had limited safeguards in place to protect patients’ electronic protected health information (ePHI).
'This case is significant because it highlights a multi-year, continuing failure on the part of this provider to comply with the requirements of the Privacy and Security Rules,' said Leon Rodriguez, director of OCR. 'We hope that health care providers pay careful attention to this resolution agreement and understand that the HIPAA Privacy and Security Rules have been in place for many years, and OCR expects full compliance no matter the size of a covered entity.'
OCR’s investigation also revealed the following issues:
- Phoenix Cardiac Surgery failed to implement adequate policies and procedures to appropriately safeguard patient information;
- Phoenix Cardiac Surgery failed to document that it trained any employees on its policies and procedures on the Privacy and Security Rules;
- Phoenix Cardiac Surgery failed to identify a security official and conduct a risk analysis; and
- Phoenix Cardiac Surgery failed to obtain business associate agreements with Internet-based email and calendar services where the provision of the service included storage of and access to its ePHI.
Under the HHS resolution agreement, Phoenix Cardiac Surgery has agreed to pay a $100,000 settlement amount and a corrective action plan that includes a review of recently developed policies and other actions taken to come into full compliance with the Privacy and Security Rules.
"HHS settles case with Phoenix Cardiac Surgery for lack of HIPAA safeguards," HHS Press Release (April 17, 2012).