The Lack of an Adequate HIPAA Security Risk Assessment is a Common and Costly Mistake by Healthcare Providers: What Providers Can Do Now

Erin Smith Aebel of Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick, LLP writes:

Health care providers and others who must comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (“HIPAA”) have specific requirements under the Security Rule to HIPAA when it comes to their maintenance of electronically held protected health information. One of those requirements is to conduct a Security Risk Assessment and to update it periodically.1 The HIPAA Security Rule defines a risk analysis as an “accurate and thorough assessment of the potential risks and vulnerabilities to the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of electronic protected health information held by the covered entity or business associate.”2

In my practice as a board certified health lawyer representing health care providers of all sizes in business and compliance, I regularly see providers either fail to create a HIPAA Security Risk Assessment or they have one that the Office for Civil Rights (“OCR”), the government agency responsible for enforcing HIPAA, would deem inadequate. It is, in fact, one of the most frequently investigated HIPAA compliance issue by the OCR.3 This can lead to monetary penalties and can also create risks that result in expensive security breaches that must be reported under HIPAA or state privacy laws such as the Florida Information and Protection Act of 2014 (“FIPA”).4

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