OCR: Lost Records of 192 Patients = $1 million

On the heels of the Cignet Health CMP, the OCR has just announced a Resolution Agreement with Massachusetts General that includes a $1 million “resolution amount”.  Under this Resolution Agreement, Mass General is also required to develop and implement “a comprehensive set of policies and procedures to safeguard the privacy of its patients.”

According to the OCR’s Resolution Agreement dated February 14, 2011, the incident giving rise to the agreement involved the loss of protected health information of 192 patients of Mass General’s Infectious Disease Associates outpatient practice, including patients with HIV/AIDS.   Specifically, the facts (as recited in the Resolution Agreement) are as follows:

On March 6, 2009, an MGH employee removed from the MGH premises documents containing protected health information (“PHI”). The MGH employee removed the PHI from the MGH premises for the purpose of working on the documents from home. The documents consisted of billing encounter forms containing the name, date of birth, medical record number, health insurer and policy number, diagnosis and name of provider of 66 patients and the practice’s daily office schedules for three days containing the names and medical record numbers of 192 patients.

On March 9, 2009, while commuting to work on the subway, the MGH employee removed the documents containing PHI from her bag and placed them on the seat beside her. The documents were not in an envelope and were bound with a rubber band. Upon exiting the train, the MGH employee left the documents on the subway train and they were never recovered.  These documents contained the PHI of 192 individuals.

In other words, HHS has just determined that employee negligence of the most common variety is worth a cool $1 million.   Enough said.