Mass. General to pay $1M to settle privacy claims

Massachusetts General Hospital and its physicians organization have agreed to pay the federal government $1,000,000 to settle claims related to a worker leaving personal health documents on the subway.

The hospital also agreed to develop a comprehensive new privacy policy to prevent patient information from being compromised in the future, and to provide training to workers. The hospital must remit semi-annual compliance reports to the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services for the next three years.

“To avoid enforcement penalties, covered entities must ensure they are always in compliance with the HIPAA Privacy and Security Rules,” HHS Office of Civil Rights Director Georgina Verdugo said in a statement. “A robust compliance program includes employee training, vigilant implementation of policies and procedures, regular internal audits, and a prompt action plan to respond to incidents.”

The settlement stems from a 2009 complaint from a patient whose personal health information was lost. The federal government subsequently opened an investigation and found that records from 192 patients of Mass General’s Infectious Disease Associates outpatient practice, including patients with HIV/AIDS, were lost. It was determined that a Mass General employee had left the records on the MBTA while commuting to work on March 9, 2009.

Read more on  Boston Business Journal.

Resolution Agreement (HHS site)

Note: this breach was previously covered on PHIprivacy.net when two of the patients sued the hospital and when one of the patients found his details posted on Rip-Off Report.

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