Breach, Compliance Management, Data Security, Privacy

HHS’ Office for Civil Rights instructs its investigators not to overlook smaller breaches

In a revision of its policies, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has instructed its regional offices to place more of an emphasis on investigating smaller healthcare data breaches that affect fewer than 500 individuals.

Beginning this month, each OCR regional office was to “increase its efforts to identify and obtain corrective action to address entity and systemic noncompliance related to [smaller] breaches" that violate HIPAA regulations, according to an OCR alert (published here on a law firm website).

Regional offices will continue to investigate all breaches affecting 500 people or more. The previous policy had also encouraged regional offices to investigate smaller breaches, but only if resources were available. OCR is advising its regional offices to prioritize smaller incidents based on such factors as breach size, theft or disposal of unencrypted PHI (Protected Health Information), and involvement by hackers.

Bradley Barth

As director of multimedia content strategy at CyberRisk Alliance, Bradley Barth develops content for online conferences, webcasts, podcasts video/multimedia projects — often serving as moderator or host. For nearly six years, he wrote and reported for SC Media as deputy editor and, before that, senior reporter. He was previously a program executive with the tech-focused PR firm Voxus. Past journalistic experience includes stints as business editor at Executive Technology, a staff writer at New York Sportscene and a freelance journalist covering travel and entertainment. In his spare time, Bradley also writes screenplays.

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