Privacy and Data Protection – Healthcare

Overview

Healthcare providers and insurers as well as employee health plan administrators are all particularly vulnerable to data security incidents due to the highly sensitive patient information they maintain, including Social Security numbers, payment records, and confidential medical information. In addition, healthcare clients must deal with the extensive regulations impacting the healthcare industry, including HIPAA and HITECH. We regularly counsel hospitals, medical groups, insurers, and employers with regard to risk assessments, developing comprehensive incident response plans, and responding in a timely and accurate manner to data incidents, from lost files and laptops to the largest cyber incident involving medical information ever reported.

Select Experience

  • Excellus BlueCross, acting as incident response counsel.
  • Premera Blue Cross, acting as incident response and regulatory and class action defense counsel with regard to one of the largest incidents involving medical information ever reported.
  • Community Health Systems, defending multiple class actions arising from the largest HIPAA breach up to that date by hackers known as APT 18 who used the computer bug Heartbleed to access VPN log-in credentials, impacting more than 6 million patients through the loss of Social Security numbers, names, addresses, and phone numbers and defending the state’s attorney general regulatory investigations.
  • Eisenhower Medical Center, serving as lead counsel in a California Confidentiality of Medical Information Act (CMIA) case arising out of thefts of computers, one of which contained index information for more than 500,000 patients, obtaining a favorable ruling from the Court of Appeal that the patient index information is not “medical information” as defined under the CMIA, denial of review of the decision by the California Supreme Court and remand to the trial court, where it was ultimately dismissed voluntarily by the plaintiffs, with no payment by our client.
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Experience

  • Excellus BlueCross, acting as incident response counsel.
  • Premera Blue Cross, acting as incident response and regulatory and class action defense counsel with regard to one of the largest incidents involving medical information ever reported.
  • Community Health Systems, defending multiple class actions arising from the largest HIPAA breach up to that date by hackers known as APT 18 who used the computer bug Heartbleed to access VPN log-in credentials, impacting more than 6 million patients through the loss of Social Security numbers, names, addresses, and phone numbers and defending the state’s attorney general regulatory investigations.
  • Eisenhower Medical Center, serving as lead counsel in a California Confidentiality of Medical Information Act (CMIA) case arising out of thefts of computers, one of which contained index information for more than 500,000 patients, obtaining a favorable ruling from the Court of Appeal that the patient index information is not “medical information” as defined under the CMIA, denial of review of the decision by the California Supreme Court and remand to the trial court, where it was ultimately dismissed voluntarily by the plaintiffs, with no payment by our client.
  • Advocate Health and Hospitals, acting as lead counsel in defending 12 class actions in Illinois state and federal courts arising out of the theft of computers alleged to have contained patient information for more than 4 million patients, and winning motions to dismiss all of the lawsuits, which were with prejudice in all but one of the cases.
  • A Florida-based health system, assisting in a data security incident response and the subsequent regulatory investigations arising from an incident where employees accessed information for approximately 14,000 patients, allegedly to sell to chiropractors and lawyers, providing breach response, crisis management, and regulatory advice, and working with the FBI and law enforcement investigations.
  • A Florida-based health system, providing advice after it discovered that patient information for more than 100,000 people might have been improperly accessed by an employee through a Web portal, working with the health system on breach analysis, crisis management, investigation of the incident, and regulatory compliance.
  • A Texas healthcare provider, advising on a data security incident involving the loss of an unencrypted portable hard drive containing patient information, including medical and research information affecting approximately 4,000 individuals.
  • A North Carolina health system, providing data security incident response services after it learned thieves stole an unencrypted thumb drive containing roughly 11,000 patients’ names, medical record numbers, and physicians’ names.

Recognition

  • Chambers USA: Nationwide Privacy & Data Security (2013 to 2018)
    • Chambers USA Privacy and Data Security- Healthcare Spotlight Table (2018)
  • Chambers USA: Healthcare
    • Florida (2018)
      • Band 4
    • Georgia (2015 to 2018)
      • Band 3
    • Ohio (2011 to 2018)
      • Band 3
    • Texas (2009 to 2018)
      • Band 3
    • Recognized Practitioner in Florida (2016, 2017)
    • Recognized Practitioner Nationwide (2017)
    • Recognized Practitioner Healthcare: Pharmaceutical/Medical Products Regulatory in District of Columbia (2018)
  • Recognized as one of the top law firms for client service, BakerHostetler was named to the 2019 BTI Client Service 30 for the fifth consecutive year.

Publications

Key Contacts

Blog

In The Blogs

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Data Privacy Monitor
Deeper Dive: The Landscape of Healthcare Data Breaches
April 24, 2019
Healthcare was the industry most affected by data breaches in 2018. We worked on nearly 200 healthcare matters involving multispecialty academic medical centers, hospital systems, small and large physician practices, small and large health...
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Data Privacy Monitor
SEC Updates Data Privacy and Cybersecurity Guidance for Registered Firms
April 22, 2019
On April 16, 2019, the Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (OCIE) of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) issued a risk alert, “Investment Adviser and Broker-Dealer Compliance Issues Relating to Regulation S-P –...
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Data Privacy Monitor
Deeper Dive: Choose the Right Forensics Firm for the Job
By William R. Daugherty, Eric A. Packel
April 17, 2019
Forensics are a key component of many data incident investigations. The importance of forensics cannot be overstated. In fact, in 2018, 65% of the incidents we handled involved some type of forensic investigation. Forensics firms can not...
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Data Privacy Monitor
In BIPA's Wake, a Wave of New Biometric Privacy Proposals
By Robyn M. Feldstein, Melinda L. McLellan
April 15, 2019
Over the past year, a host of new national, state and local laws have been introduced to regulate the collection and use of biometric information. Although these proposals vary in their requirements, certain elements appear to be inspired...
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Data Privacy Monitor
Deeper Dive: The Scourge of O365 Incidents
April 11, 2019
A Growing Menace 2018 saw a continuation of companies moving toward cloud-based email systems. Phishing incidents targeting those systems followed suit. Fully one-third of incidents addressed by our incident response team in 2018 involved...
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