University of Washington Medicine Agrees to $750,000 HIPAA Settlement | Healthcare Informatics Magazine | Health IT | Information Technology Skip to content Skip to navigation

University of Washington Medicine Agrees to $750,000 HIPAA Settlement

December 15, 2015
by Heather Landi
| Reprints
Click To View Gallery

The University of Washington Medicine (UWM), based in Seattle, Wash., has agreed to pay $750,000 to settle charges that it potentially violated the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) Security Rule stemming from a security breach in 2013.

According to the charges, UWM potentially violated the HIPAA Security Rule by failing to implement policies and procedures to prevent, detect, contain, and correct security violations. As part of the settlement, UWM agreed to a corrective action plan and will submit annual reports on its compliance efforts.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights (OCR) initiated an investigation of UWM following a breach report on Nov. 27, 2013, which indicated that the electronic protected health information (e-PHI) of approximately 90,000 patients had been accessed.

The breach occurred after an employee downloaded an email attachment that contained malicious malware. The malware compromised the organization’s IT system, affecting the data of two different groups of patients -- approximately 76,000 patients involving a combination of patient names, medical record numbers, dates of service, and/or charges or bill balances; and also approximately 15,000 patients involving names, medical record numbers, other demographics such as address and phone number, dates of birth, charges or bill balances, social security numbers, insurance identification or Medicare numbers, according to the HHS website.

The OCR stated that this newest settlement shows the need for organization-wide risk analysis.

“All too often we see covered entities with a limited risk analysis that focuses on a specific system such as the electronic medical record or that fails to provide appropriate oversight and accountability for all parts of the enterprise,” OCR director Jocelyn Samuels said in a statement.  “An effective risk analysis is one that is comprehensive in scope and is conducted across the organization to sufficiently address the risks and vulnerabilities to patient data.”

OCR’s investigation indicated UWM’s security policies required its affiliated entities to have up-to-date, documented system-level risk assessments and to implement safeguards in compliance with the Security Rule.  However, according to OCR, “UWM did not ensure that all of its affiliated entities were properly conducting risk assessments and appropriately responding to the potential risks and vulnerabilities in their respective environments.”

Two weeks ago, Lahey Hospital and Medical Center agreed to pay $850,000 to settle potential HIPAA security violations due to a 2011 security breach.

 

 

Get the latest information on Finance and Revenues and attend other valuable sessions at this two-day Summit providing healthcare leaders with educational content, insightful debate and dialogue on the future of healthcare and technology.

Learn More

Topics

News

NewYork-Presbyterian, Walgreens Partner on Telemedicine Initiative

NewYork-Presbyterian and Walgreens are collaborating to bring expanded access to NewYork-Presbyterian’s healthcare through new telemedicine services, the two organizations announced this week.

ONC Releases Patient Demographic Data Quality Framework

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) developed a framework to help health systems, large practices, health information exchanges and payers to improve their patient demographic data quality.

AMIA, Pew Urge Congress to Ensure ONC has Funding to Implement Cures Provisions

The Pew Charitable Trusts and the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA) have sent a letter to congressional appropriators urging them to ensure that ONC has adequate funding to implement certain 21st Century Cures Act provisions.

Former Michigan Governor to Serve as Chair of DRIVE Health

Former Michigan Governor John Engler will serve as chair of the DRIVE Health Initiative, a campaign aimed at accelerating the U.S. health system's transition to value-based care.

NJ Medical Group Launches Statewide HIE, OneHealth New Jersey

The Medical Society of New Jersey (MSNJ) recently launched OneHealth New Jersey, a statewide health information exchange (HIE) that is now live.

Survey: 70% of Providers Using Off-Premises Computing for Some Applications

A survey conducted by KLAS Research found that 70 percent of healthcare organizations have moved at least some applications or IT infrastructure off-premises.