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32 Large Patient Data Breaches Since September, Says OCR

Dom Nicastro, for HealthLeaders Media, February 23, 2010

OCR posted on its Web site a list of covered entities this week that have reported breaches of unsecured PHI affecting more than 500 individuals, fulfilling its obligation under HITECH.

The HHS organization, which oversees enforcement and compliance of the HIPAA privacy and security rules, reports that since September 22, 2009, 32 covered entities have reported breaches that affected at least 500 individuals.

In the cases where a business associate (BA) is involved, OCR lists those organizations as well. OCR reports that among the 32 breaches of 500 or more, seven included BAs. OCR cited one of the BAs by name -- Rick Lawson of Professional Computer Services. That reported breach, in Wilmington, NC, involved 2,000 individuals and was the result of a hacker, according to OCR.

The most egregious breach case came from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee, which affected 500,000 as a result of stolen hard drives, OCR reported on its Web site.

Following Blue Cross Blue Shield is AvMed, Inc., a Gainesville, FL, health plan. That reported breach occurred on December 10, 2009 and affected 359,000 individuals, according to the post on the OCR site. It resulted from a stolen laptop.

HITECH requires OCR to make public any breaches of 500 or more. OCR says on the site it will continue to update the page as it receives new reports of breaches of unsecured PHI.

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