Unencrypted PHI (Protected Health Information) on iPhone leads to $650,000 HIPAA penalty!

28 July 2016 Internet, IT & e-Discovery Blog Blog
Authors: Peter Vogel

The HIPAA violation in violation of a Business Associate Agreement (BAA)  resulted from extensive PHI on an iPhone which “included social security numbers, information regarding diagnosis and treatment, medical procedures, names of family members and legal guardians, and medication information” according to a recent report from the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) of U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  The settlement fine of $650,000 included a remediation plan for the Business Associate Catholic Health Care Services of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia (CHCS) who under BAAs “provided management and information technology services as a business associate to six skilled nursing facilities.”  The report including this surprising information:

At the time of the incident, CHCS had no policies addressing the removal of mobile devices containing PHI from its facility or what to do in the event of a security incident; OCR also determined that CHCS had no risk analysis or risk management plan.

In determining the resolution amount, OCR considered that CHCS provides unique and much-needed services in the Philadelphia region to the elderly, developmentally disabled individuals, young adults aging out of foster care, and individuals living with HIV/AIDS.

This report should be a wake call to all Covered Entities and Business Associates covered by HIPAA.

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