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July 06, 2020

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2018 An All-Time Record Year for HIPAA Enforcement Actions by HHS-OCR

The Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS-OCR) had a record-breaking year in 2018 with Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) enforcement activity.  HHS-OCR entered into 10 settlements and received summary judgment in a case before an Administrative Law Judge, totaling nearly $28.7 million in enforcement actions. According to the HHS-OCR Director, Roger Severino, this record year underscores the need for covered entities to be proactive about their HIPAA data security.

Here are three overarching themes from HHS-OCR’s 2018 HIPAA enforcement activity for HIPAA Covered Entities to consider:

  1. Several settlements indicate failures to obtain written business associate agreements from business associates that maintain protected health information (PHI) and electronic protected health information (ePHI) on behalf of Covered Entities.
  2. HHS-OCR is citing failures to conduct thorough risk analyses of potential risks and vulnerabilities to Covered Entities’ ePHI.
  3. PHI disclosures to the media are thoroughly assessed for compliance with the HIPAA exception.
© 2020 Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP. All Rights Reserved.National Law Review, Volume IX, Number 43


About this Author

Sumaya Noush, Drinker Biddle Law Firm, HealthCare Attorney

Sumaya Noush counsels health care clients on strategic and operational matters including transactions, corporate governance, and regulatory compliance. She helps her clients navigate the daily challenges of running their operations while identifying opportunities for growth in today’s rapidly evolving and highly competitive health care market.

Sumaya previously served as a law clerk for Drinker Biddle, an instructor at Yale’s Bioethics Institute where she taught a seminar on FDA law and medical ethics, and a Visiting Scholar at...