Children’s Hospital Hit With Fines Over Lack of Cyber Security

The Health and Human Services Dept. has fined the Children’s Medical Center of Dallas $3.2 million for its lack of cybersecurity that exposed the private data of thousands of its pediatric patients, the department said.

The HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR) assessed the penalty under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). Children’s is a pediatric hospital in Dallas, Texas, and is part of Children’s Health, the seventh largest pediatric health care provider in the nation.

On January 18, 2010, Children’s filed a breach report with OCR indicating the loss of an unencrypted, non-password protected BlackBerry device at the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport on Nov. 19, 2009.  The device contained personal data for approximately 3,800 individuals.  On July 5, 2013, Children’s filed a separate HIPAA Breach Notification Report with OCR, reporting the theft of an unencrypted laptop from its premises sometime between April 4 and April 9, 2013. Children’s reported the device contained the data of 2,462 individuals. Although Children’s implemented some physical safeguards to the laptop storage area (e.g., badge access and a security camera at one of the entrances), it also provided access to the area to workforce not authorized to access such data.

OCR’s investigation revealed a failure to implement risk management plans, contrary to prior external recommendations to do so, and a failure to deploy encryption or an equivalent alternative measure on all of its laptops, work stations, mobile devices and removable storage media until April 9, 2013.  Despite Children’s knowledge about the risk of maintaining unencrypted data on its devices as far back as 2007, Children’s issued unencrypted BlackBerry devices to nurses and allowed its workforce members to continue using unencrypted laptops and other mobile devices until 2013.

“Ensuring adequate security precautions to protect health information, including identifying any security risks and immediately correcting them, is essential” said OCR acting Director Robinsue Frohboese. “Although OCR prefers to settle cases and assist entities in implementing corrective action plans, a lack of risk management not only costs individuals the security of their data, but it can also cost covered entities a sizable fine.”

Info: https://goo.gl/SgQcpX (report).

About Frank Klimko

Frank Klimko is a nationally known journalist, grants expert and speech writer/speaker. He has years of experience helping nonprofits devise lists of the right funding opportunities and secure funding from these foundations and corporate entities. Clients have focused on an array of areas including child care, homeless, hunger and K-12 education. Additionally, he is a Freedom of Information Act expert, who has helped numerous clients with securing proprietary information from the federal government. Currently, Frank Klimko writes the Children & Youth Funding Report and Private Grants Alert, which are Washington DC-based publications. CYF is a daily publication covering Congress, the Education Dept. and the various federal regulatory agencies. PGA, another daily publication, covers the world of private philanthropy.
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