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University of Washington to pay $750,000 HIPAA settlement

December 14, 2015 Washington — The University of Washington Medicine has agreed to pay a $750,000 settlement following an investigation triggered by a breach report that 90,000 patients had their electronic protected health information accessed after an employee downloaded an email attachment containing malicious malware.

According to a Dec. 14 release from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights, the affected personal information included patient names, medical record numbers, social security numbers, insurance identification, Medicare numbers and other information. OCR's investigation indicated UWM's security policies required its affiliates — which includes the University of Washington Medical Center, the primary teaching hospital of the University of Washington School of Medicine — to have "up-to-date, documented system-level risk assessments and to implement safeguards in compliance" with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act Security Rule. However, the office noted that UWM did not ensure that all of its affiliated entities were properly conducting risk assessments and appropriately responding to the potential risks and vulnerabilities in their respective environments.

The full settlement includes a monetary payment of $750,000, a corrective action plan, and annual reports on the organization's compliance efforts.