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OCR finalizes $2.4 million settlement against Texas health care system

May 18, 2017 Washington — The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights May 10 said it has finalized a $2.4 million settlement with the Memorial Hermann Health System following media reports suggesting it disclosed a patient's protected health information without an authorization.

In October 2015, OCR initiated a compliance review of Memorial Hermann Health System based on "multiple media reports suggesting the health care system had disclosed a patient's protected health information without an authorization." This occurred after a patient at one of the system's clinics presented an allegedly fraudulent identification card to staff and subsequently was arrested. OCR noted that "this disclosure of [protected health information] to law enforcement was permitted under the HIPAA rules," but that the health care system subsequently decided to publish a press release concerning the incident and named the patient.

Memorial Hermann Health System, a Texas-based health system comprising 16 hospitals and specialty services, also "failed to timely document the sanctioning of its workforce members for impermissibly disclosing the patient's information," OCR said.

According to OCR, Memorial Hermann Health System has also agreed to adopt a corrective action plan to update its policies and procedures on safeguarding protected health information from impermissible uses and disclosures, and to train its workforce members.  

For more information, visit the OCR website.

ADA HIPAA resources can be found online in the Center for Professional Success or the ADA Catalog.