Saturday, September 16, 2006

If I Had a Hammer

From comes this quite good piece by Liz Freeman on a very interesting case going on right now in Florida:

The 1,100 Naples patients who were victims in the state's first federal privacy prosecution have little legal recourse, and Cleveland Clinic not likely to face fines

The indictment of a former Cleveland Clinic Florida employee for conspiracy to commit health care fraud with personal information of more than 1,100 Naples patients isn’t likely to bring a hammer of civil fines against the hospital by the federal government, which has yet to sanction a hospital or other health care entity for patient privacy breaches.

But the former hospital employee at Cleveland Clinic in Weston and her Naples cousin, who was her alleged co-conspirator, will be the first in South Florida to be prosecuted for violating the federal law protecting patients’ privacy rights and the third such case nationally, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Miami.

Note the general cynicism when it comes to enforcement--- even the folks from HHS can't put enough lipstick on this pig. What started as a reasonable policy to allow providers to ease into compliance has become an excuse to not enforce. It won't last forever, and when the climate changes there will be some very unhappy folks in the docket.

As a side note, it looks to me as though Cleveland Clinic Florida, the provider in this case, did everything they should have, and seem both blameless and cooperative.

Here is a little more detail on this case from the Sun-Sentinal.

And here is the press release from the FBI.

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