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.

Publications

Key Contacts

Blog

In The Blogs

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Data Privacy Monitor
Moving Beyond Passwords – Does Your Face Raise Privacy Concerns?
November 8, 2017
Phishing attacks continue to be the root cause of a considerable number of data breaches. Typically, these incidents occur when employees are enticed into giving up their login credentials in response to a cleverly designed, yet fake...
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Data Privacy Monitor
From the Mouths of Babes: FTC Issues COPPA Enforcement Policy Regarding Voice Recordings
By Alan L. Friel, Melinda L. McLellan
November 7, 2017
On October 23, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) released new guidance on how the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) Rule may apply to audio recordings of children’s voices collected by websites and online services...
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Data Privacy Monitor
Deception and Unfair Practices Come Preinstalled
By Alan L. Friel
October 23, 2017
Lenovo, a manufacturer of personal computers, recently agreed, among other things, to implement a software security program in a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over issues with third-party software preinstalled on some...
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Data Privacy Monitor
FTC Takes Action Against Individual Social Media Influencers
By Stephanie A. Lucas
September 26, 2017
Advertisers’ and brands’ use of social media influencers has continued to grow in importance as brands seek to reach new consumers while marketing to a widespread demographic. Traditionally, influencers are known as people who leverage...
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Data Privacy Monitor
European Court Provides Further Clarity on Employee Monitoring
By Emily R. Fedeles, Nichole L. Sterling
September 20, 2017
The September 5, 2017, decision of the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Barbulescu v Romania (Barbulescu) has interrupted a recent trend toward limiting privacy in the European workplace. The Barbulescu...
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