The Norman Transcript

Local news

January 20, 2013

HIPAA compliance: does your doctor really care?

NORMAN — Recent trips to the doctor’s office have once again led me to question the security of my private medical and financial information. While most people turn a blind eye to how patient records are handled by their favorite doctor or hospital, the security of such records has never been more important.

It’s my observation that, while most doctors, nurses and secretaries have at least heard of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), many of them aren’t really aware of what is required by the law and a shocking number of health professionals couldn’t seem to care less.

HIPAA basically states that doctors, nurses, office staff, insurance agencies, attorneys, secretaries, vendors, and anyone else who handles patient data must ensure that names, addresses, telephone numbers, social security, credit card, insurance, bank account and other identifying numbers that make their way onto computers must be protected from loss, corruption and unauthorized access.

Computers should not be left unattended in unlocked rooms. Anti-theft measures should be in place. Computers and file systems should be password protected, and particularly sensitive files should be encrypted. Antivirus and antihacker measures should be in place. Patient data stolen by thieves or hackers, destroyed by accidents such as a storm, or damaged by a computer virus has lost its privacy, integrity, and has become unavailable. All three situations can be considered violations, incurring non-compliance citations.

Case in point is Providence Health & Services, a Seattle, Washington-based health care organization, which was once punished to the tune of $100,000 for lax security policies. An investigation by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services revealed that Providence had experienced the loss or theft of numerous laptop computers, CDs and backup tapes that contained the private medical records of over 386,000 Providence patients. Sadly, none of the lost or stolen information was encrypted or password-protected. Providence is also being forced to implement a rigorous security program designed to stop such unconscionable losses.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local news
  • Norman firefighter performs Heimlich maneuver on Moore man after he chokes on food

    What started out as a normal night out for a Moore couple ended with them being thankful a firefighter was in the right place at the right time....

    July 22, 2014

  • 18-year-old killed; 72-year-old man, young boy injured

    Those involved in the wreck Friday near 136th Avenue and South Sooner Road were identified Monday by Oklahoma City police. Logan Rosado-Santoni, 18, was pronounced dead on the scene after the 4:30 p.m. multi-vehicle wreck. Two others were ...

    July 22, 2014

  • New AP program to begin in Norman

    NORMAN — Norman Public Schools Board of Education learned about Advanced Placement Capstone at a regular board meeting Monday....

    July 22, 2014

  • Moore City Council paves way for Sam’s Club location

    MOORE — The Moore City Council approved a $5 million bond Tuesday to be repaid with sales tax and utility revenues. “A good amount of street improvements needs to be done,” Moore City Manager Steve Eddy said. “This will be paid for with ...

    July 22, 2014

  • Crime briefs

    Woman charged with assault A Norman woman was charged with assault and battery with a dangerous weapon Monday after admitting that she threw a knife at someone, court records show. Jamie Marie Rietz, 32, was charged in Cleveland County ...

    July 22, 2014

  • Felonies filed

    The following people were charged with felony counts in the Cleveland County Court Clerk’s Office: · Jeremy Ryan Sellers, 20, second-degree burglary and malicious injury to property under $1,000 in concert and together with Ryan ...

    July 22, 2014

  • County want details of insurance coverage

    Cleveland County commissioners will formally request particulars on their insurance coverage from the Association of County Commissioners of Oklahoma Self Insurance Group....

    July 22, 2014

  • Stewart journeys from volunteer to director at Women’s Resource Center

    Kristy Stewart walked into the Women’s Resource Center as a volunteer 30 years ago. The volunteer work soon turned into a staff position, and that one into another and another and so on. Along with the new responsibilities came her ...

    July 21, 2014

  • garnervisit1 Family, friends recall Garner’s Norman roots

    Flowers started arriving at the James Garner statue at Main Street and Jones Avenue Sunday morning after residents learned of the famed actor and Norman native’s death Saturday night in California. Norman resident Roy Hamilton, who grew ...

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • James Garner James Garner dies at 86

    NEW YORK — Few actors could register disbelief, exasperation or annoyance with more comic subtlety....

    July 21, 2014 2 Photos