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    HHS Settles Case with Phoenix Cardiac Surgery Over Medical Privacy

    The Health and Human Services department announced a settlement (agency pdf; archive pdf) concerning medical privacy with Phoenix Cardiac Surgery, an Arizona company. The agency investigated the company for violations of HIPAA (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act):

    Phoenix Cardiac Surgery, P.C., of Phoenix and Prescott, Arizona, has agreed to pay the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) a $100,000 settlement and take corrective action to implement policies and procedures to safeguard the protected health information of its patients.

    The settlement with the physician practice follows an extensive investigation by the HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR) for potential violations of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) Privacy and Security Rules.

    The incident giving rise to OCR’s investigation was a report that the physician practice was posting clinical and surgical appointments for its patients on an Internet-based calendar that was publicly accessible.  On further investigation, OCR found that Phoenix Cardiac Surgery had implemented few policies and procedures to comply with the HIPAA Privacy and Security Rules, and had limited safeguards in place to protect patients’ electronic protected health information (ePHI).  […]

    OCR’s investigation also revealed the following issues:

    • Phoenix Cardiac Surgery failed to implement adequate policies and procedures to appropriately safeguard patient information;
    • Phoenix Cardiac Surgery failed to document that it trained any employees on its policies and procedures on the Privacy and Security Rules;
    • Phoenix Cardiac Surgery failed to identify a security official and conduct a risk analysis; and
    • Phoenix Cardiac Surgery failed to obtain business associate agreements with Internet-based email and calendar services where the provision of the service included storage of and access to its ePHI.

    Under the HHS resolution agreement, Phoenix Cardiac Surgery has agreed to pay a $100,000 settlement amount and a corrective action plan that includes a review of recently developed policies and other actions taken to come into full compliance with the Privacy and Security Rules.

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