Dropped-off boxes cost sys­tem $800,000 in HIPAA set­tle­ment

Modern Healthcare - - REGIONAL NEWS - —Joseph Conn

In what may be one of the most ex­pen­sive home de­liv­er­ies in health­care reg­u­la­tory his­tory, em­ploy­ees of Fort Wayne, Ind.-based Parkview Health Sys­tem dropped off 71 card­board boxes of pa­tient med­i­cal records in the drive­way of a physician’s home, and now the or­ga­ni­za­tion is pay­ing hun­dreds of thou­sands of dol­lars in penal­ties as a re­sult.

Left “unat­tended and ac­ces­si­ble to unau­tho­rized per­sons,” the records were “within 20 feet of the pub­lic road and a short dis­tance away from a heav­ily traf­ficked pub­lic shop­ping venue,” ac­cord­ing to a news re­lease from HHS’ Of­fice for Civil Rights. As a re­sult, Parkview has agreed to pay $800,000 to set­tle po­ten­tial vi­o­la­tions of the pri­vacy rule of the Health In­surance Porta­bil­ity and Ac­count­abil­ity Act, and will adopt a cor­rec­tive ac­tion plan, ac­cord­ing to the OCR.

The of­fice be­gan its in­ves­ti­ga­tion fol­low­ing a com­plaint from a re­tir­ing physician. In Septem­ber 2008, Parkview ob­tained the med­i­cal records of be­tween 5,000 and 8,000 pa­tients of a re­tir­ing physician as the sys­tem sought to buy a por­tion of the physician’s prac­tice and tran­si­tion pa­tients to other providers. The records were dropped off on June 9, 2009, by Parkview em­ploy­ees “with no­tice that the physician was not at home.”

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