HIPAA Business Associate Pays $2.3 Million to Settle Breach Affecting Protected Health Information of Over 6 million Individuals
A second big settlement from HHS this week (you can find the first one here). HHS’s press release concerning a case that was previously reported on this site in 2014 follows. The incident also resulted in a class action lawsuit that was settled in 2019.
CHSPSC LLC, (“CHSPSC”) has agreed to pay $2,300,000 to the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and to adopt a corrective action plan to settle potential violations of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy and Security Rules related to a breach affecting over six million people. CHSPSC provides a variety of business associate services, including IT and health information management, to hospitals and physician clinics indirectly owned by Community Health Systems, Inc., in Franklin, Tennessee.
In April 2014, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) notified CHSPSC that it had traced a cyberhacking group’s advanced persistent threat to CHSPSC’s information system. Despite this notice, the hackers continued to access and exfiltrate the protected health information (PHI) of 6,121,158 individuals until August 2014. The hackers used compromised administrative credentials to remotely access CHSPSC’s information system through its virtual private network.
OCR ‘s investigation found longstanding, systemic noncompliance with the HIPAA Security Rule including failure to conduct a risk analysis, and failures to implement information system activity review, security incident procedures, and access controls.
“The health care industry is a known target for hackers and cyberthieves. The failure to implement the security protections required by the HIPAA Rules, especially after being notified by the FBI of a potential breach, is inexcusable,” said OCR Director Roger Severino.
In addition to the monetary settlement, CHSPSC has agreed to a robust corrective action plan that includes two years of monitoring. The resolution agreement and corrective action plan may be found at https://www.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/chspsc-ra-cap.pdf – PDF.