Hous­ton’s Me­mo­rial Her­mann to pay $2.4 mil­lion in HIPAA set­tle­ment

Modern Healthcare - - REGIONAL NEWS - —Rachel Z. Arndt

Me­mo­rial Her­mann Health Sys­tem will pay the HHS $2.4 mil­lion to set­tle al­le­ga­tions that it dis­closed pro­tected pa­tient in­for­ma­tion with­out au­tho­riza­tion.

The 16-hospi­tal not-for-profit sys­tem po­ten­tially vi­o­lated the Health In­sur­ance Porta­bil­ity and Ac­count­abil­ity Act by us­ing a pa­tient’s name in a Septem­ber 2015 news re­lease about an in­ci­dent in­volv­ing an al­legedly fraud­u­lent ID card. The pa­tient had pro­vided Me­mo­rial Her­mann clinic staff with the ID card and was later ar­rested.

Although HIPAA al­lows providers to give law en­force­ment a pa­tient’s pro­tected health in­for­ma­tion, us­ing the pa­tient’s name in the news re­lease and in sub­se­quent dis­cus­sions with law­mak­ers and ad­vo­cacy groups about the in­ci­dent vi­o­lates the law.

The Hous­ton-based health sys­tem rep­ri­manded the em­ploy­ees who re­leased the in­for­ma­tion but failed to doc­u­ment the pu­n­ish­ment in a timely man­ner, HHS said in its res­o­lu­tion agree­ment.

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