Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Risk

7/30/2010
12:03 AM
George V. Hulme
George V. Hulme
Commentary
50%
50%

Rite Aid's $1 Million Settlement: More Good Enforcement News

Rite Aid Corp. having to pay a $1 million settlement to possible Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) violations is another right step in the direction of enforcement.

Rite Aid Corp. having to pay a $1 million settlement to possible Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) violations is another right step in the direction of enforcement.It's also another glaring example of the lackadaisical attitude businesses and the medical community have toward securing patient medical records. Rite Aid Corp agreed to pay the $1 million to resolve Department of Health and Human Services allegations that the company didn't take the proper steps to protect the health data customers provided.

The investigation into Rite Aid started after a news organization, WTHR, essentially traveled to number of cities to dumpster dive (an old and wildly successful hacking tactic) into the trashcans of pharmacies. The reporters found pharmacy labels, job applications, and other sensitive data. Soon the HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and the FTC were investigating potential HIPAA violations:

OCR, which enforces the HIPAA Privacy and Security Rules, opened its investigation of Rite Aid after television media videotaped incidents in which pharmacies were shown to have disposed of prescriptions and labeled pill bottles containing individuals' identifiable information in industrial trash containers that were accessible to the public. These incidents were reported as occurring in a variety of cities across the United States. Rite Aid pharmacy stores in several of the cities were highlighted in media reports.

Disposing of individuals' health information in an industrial trash container accessible to unauthorized persons is not compliant with several requirements of the HIPAA Privacy Rule and exposes the individuals' information to the risk of identity theft and other crimes. This is the second joint investigation and settlement conducted by OCR and FTC. OCR and FTC settled a similar case involving another national drug store chain in February 2009.

The HIPAA Privacy Rule requires health plans, health care clearinghouses and most health care providers (covered entities), including most pharmacies, to safeguard the privacy of patient information, including such information during its disposal.

It sure does. And it's surely too often ignored as we covered similar incidents in recent posts Patient Data Dump Nets Urgent Care Center $50,000 Fine and Medical Records Keep Getting Dumped.

The investigation found that:

Rite Aid failed to implement adequate policies and procedures to appropriately safeguard patient information during the disposal process;

Rite Aid failed to adequately train employees on how to dispose of such information properly; and Rite Aid did not maintain a sanctions policy for members of its workforce who failed to properly dispose of patient information.

In addition to the $1 million resolution payment, Rite Aid must implement the following corrective actions:

Revising and distributing its policies and procedures regarding disposal of protected health information and sanctioning workers who do not follow them;

Training workforce members on these new requirements;

Conducting internal monitoring; and

Engaging a qualified, independent third-party assessor to conduct compliance reviews and render reports to HHS.

As with most FTC consent orders relating to privacy and security, Rite Aid will have to undergo external independent assessments of its stores' level of compliance to the consent order. And the action is in place for 20 years.

Hopefully (yet, unlikely) this will open the eyes of others who handle medical data to do so properly.

For my security and technology observations throughout the day, find me on Twitter.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
COVID-19: Latest Security News & Commentary
Dark Reading Staff 5/22/2020
The Problem with Artificial Intelligence in Security
Dr. Leila Powell, Lead Security Data Scientist, Panaseer,  5/26/2020
How an Industry Consortium Can Reinvent Security Solution Testing
Henry Harrison, Co-founder & Chief Technology Officer, Garrison,  5/21/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win a Starbucks Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: This comment is waiting for review by our moderators.
Current Issue
How Cybersecurity Incident Response Programs Work (and Why Some Don't)
This Tech Digest takes a look at the vital role cybersecurity incident response (IR) plays in managing cyber-risk within organizations. Download the Tech Digest today to find out how well-planned IR programs can detect intrusions, contain breaches, and help an organization restore normal operations.
Flash Poll
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-10737
PUBLISHED: 2020-05-27
A race condition was found in the mkhomedir tool shipped with the oddjob package in versions before 0.34.5 and 0.34.6 wherein, during the home creation, mkhomedir copies the /etc/skel directory into the newly created home and changes its ownership to the home's user without properly checking the hom...
CVE-2020-13622
PUBLISHED: 2020-05-27
JerryScript 2.2.0 allows attackers to cause a denial of service (assertion failure) because a property key query for a Proxy object returns unintended data.
CVE-2020-13623
PUBLISHED: 2020-05-27
JerryScript 2.2.0 allows attackers to cause a denial of service (stack consumption) via a proxy operation.
CVE-2020-13616
PUBLISHED: 2020-05-26
The boost ASIO wrapper in net/asio.cpp in Pichi before 1.3.0 lacks TLS hostname verification.
CVE-2020-13614
PUBLISHED: 2020-05-26
An issue was discovered in ssl.c in Axel before 2.17.8. The TLS implementation lacks hostname verification.