HIPAA settlement illustrates the importance of reviewing and updating, as necessary, business associate agreements

Care New England Health System (CNE), on behalf of each of the covered entities under its common ownership or control, has agreed to settle potential violations of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) Privacy and Security Rules.  The settlement includes a monetary payment of $400,000 and a comprehensive corrective action plan. CNE provides centralized corporate support for its subsidiary affiliated covered entities, which include a number of hospitals and health care providers in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.  These functions include, but are not limited to, finance, human resources, information services and technical support, insurance, compliance and administrative functions. 

On November 5, 2012, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights (OCR) received notification from Woman & Infants Hospital of Rhode Island (WIH), a covered entity member of CNE, of the loss of unencrypted backup tapes containing the ultrasound studies of approximately 14,000 individuals, including patient name, data of birth, date of exam, physician names, and, in some instances Social Security Numbers.  As WIH’s business associate, CNE provides centralized corporate support including technical support and information security for WIH’s information systems.  WIH provided OCR with a business associate agreement with Care New England Health System effective March 15, 2005, that was not updated until August 28, 2015, as a result of OCR’s investigation, and therefore, did not incorporate revisions required under the HIPAA Omnibus Final Rule.

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business associate agreement, Care New England Health System, Department of Health and Human Services, Government Perspectives, HHS, HIPAA, Woman & Infants Hospital of Rhode Island

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