Reprinted with permission from the Birmingham Medial News.
Over the last year, government investigations of HIPAA complaints have increased significantly. According to Health Information Privacy/Security Alert, health data breaches involving more than 500 patients are averaging between 400 and 500 a month, with 489 health data breaches reported between July 18, 2012 and August 17, 2012. In all, these breaches affect over 20 million individuals. As of July 2012, the Office of Civil Rights (“OCR”), the government agency authorized to investigate HIPAA breaches, reports 72,684 HIPAA complaints, with 25,612 matters under active investigation and approximately 500 cases sent to the Department of Justice for possible criminal investigation. The government has also started random audits of health care providers to determine HIPAA compliance.