HHS guts health-care breach notification law, groups warn

Jaikumar Vijayan  reports:

Privacy and civil rights advocates accused the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services of trying to neuter a landmark data breach notification law for health care organizations that is scheduled to go into effect next week.

The law would require any organization covered under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) to notify patients of a data breach involving their personal health information. Companies that used encryption and data destruction methodologies to render sensitive health information unusable and unreadable to unauthorized individuals were exempt from the breach notification requirement.

However, in an interim final rule published late last month, the HHS introduced a new “harm threshold” for breach notification which critics say completely guts the original intent of the bill. Under the change, health-care entities will be required to publicly disclose breaches involving health-care data only if they think the breach will cause financial or reputational harm to those whose data was compromised.

Read more on Computerworld.

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  1. Anonymous - September 18, 2009

    The Center for Democracy & Technology wrote an article on how the HHS harm standard undermines patient privacy and the transparency of health care companies.

    That article can be found here:
    http://blog.cdt.org/2009/09/11/hhs%E2%80%99-new-harm-standard-for-breach-notification/

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