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Patricia O'Connell
Senior Communications Manager

Kirk Nahra Comments on Rise in HIPAA Criminal Prosecutions

Healthcare Info Security
August 9, 2016

Kirk J. Nahra, chair of Wiley Rein’s Privacy Practice and co-chair of the Health Care Practice, was quoted in an August 8 Healthcare Info Security article on the recent rise in Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)-related criminal prosecutions. 

“HIPAA criminal cases are rare, but the Department of Justice will bring them if it turns out that insiders are using protected health information for improper purposes—like identity theft, Medicare fraud, tax fraud, or selling to the media,” said Mr. Nahra. He also noted that these recent prosecutions should serve as a wake-up call for health care employees intent on illegal activities. Employees should be aware that they are being monitored, could be caught and possibly fired, and then subsequently prosecuted.

Mr. Nahra added that not all employee-related HIPAA violations encompass criminal activity. “These prosecutions are for inherently bad things—they aren’t for sending a fax to the wrong number or disclosing mistakenly to a parent about a child, or any other slip-up or honest mistake.” he said. These are criminal cases where the actions are intentional. “No one commits tax fraud because they weren’t trained properly.”

“Employers also need to know that these kinds of activities can happen—they need to monitor, audit, educate, inform, train, and make sure people know they will get caught,” Mr. Nahra said.

To read the full article, please click here.