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Lahey Hospital and Medical Center Fined $850K for Potential HIPAA Security Violations

November 25, 2015
by Heather Landi
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Burlington, Mass.-based Lahey Hospital and Medical Center this week agreed to pay $850,000 to settle potential  violations of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy and Security Rules stemming from a 2011 security breach.

The settlement was agreed upon with the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Office for Civil Rights (OCR). In addition to the fines, Lahey Hospital will adopt a robust corrective action plan to correct deficiencies in its HIPAA compliance program. 

The potential violations stem from a security breach incident in October 2011 when Lahey Hospital reported that an unencrypted laptop used in connection with a computerized tomography (CT) scanner was stolen from the hospital’s radiology department, according to the HHS OCR resolution agreement. The laptop contained 599 patients’ electronic protected health information (ePHI).

According to an HHS OCR press release, the HIPAA settlement reinforces lessons for users of medical devices. As hospitals and health centers become more connected, it’s common for medical devices to be controlled and operated remotely, which poses certain security risks.

As a result of the security breach due to the laptop theft, OCR investigated Lahey Hospital’s compliance with HIPAA Rules and, according to the OCR resolution agreement, the agency found problems with the hospital’s security practices, such as failure to assign unique user names and a lack of physical safeguards to secure the laptop and restrict access to authorized users. According to the OCR, Lahey also failed to conduct an accurate and thorough analysis of the potential risks and vulnerabilities to the confidentiality, integrity and availability of its ePHI as part of its security management process and did not implement policies and procedures for the removal of hardware and electronic medic that contain ePHI into and out of its facility.

As part of the settlement, Lahey Hospital also will have to conduct an organization-wide risk analysis of the security risks and vulnerabilities to its ePHI and must submit the risk analysis and risk management plan to OCR.




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