October 20, 2019

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Dental Practice Pays $10,000 Fine to OCR for Disclosing PHI on Social Media

Elite Dental Associates (Elite), located in Dallas, Texas has agreed to settle alleged HIPAA violations with the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) for $10,000.

The OCR alleged that it received a complaint from a patient in June of 2016 that Elite had disclosed the patient’s last name and details of the patient’s health condition on social media. After an investigation, the OCR “found that Elite had impermissibly disclosed the protected health information (PHI) of multiple patients in response to patient reviews on the Elite Yelp review page.”

The OCR further alleged that “Elite did not have a policy and procedure regarding disclosures of PHI to ensure that its social media interactions protect the PHI of its patients or a Notice of Privacy Practices that complies with the HIPAA Privacy Rule.”

According to the OCR, it “accepted a substantially reduced settlement amount in consideration of Elite’s size, financial circumstances, and cooperation with OCR’s investigation.”

In its press release, the OCR stated, “Social media is not the place for providers to discuss a patient’s care. Doctors and dentists must think carefully about patient privacy before responding to online reviews.”

The Settlement Agreement and Corrective Action Plan also requires Elite to be monitored for two years and to implement appropriate HIPAA-compliant policies and procedures.

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About this Author

Linn F. Freedman, Robinson Cole Law Firm, Cybersecurity and Litigation Law Attorney, Providence
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Linn Freedman practices in data privacy and security law, cybersecurity, and complex litigation. She provides guidance on data privacy and cybersecurity compliance to a full range of public and private clients across all industries, such as construction, education, health care, insurance, manufacturing, real estate, utilities and critical infrastructure, marine, and charitable organizations. Linn is a member of the firm's Business Litigation Group and chairs its Data Privacy + Cybersecurity Team. She is also a member of the Financial Services Cyber-Compliance Team (CyFi ...

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