Indiana recently enacted a new law which grants authority to the Indiana Office of the Attorney General’s Identity Theft Unit to obtain and secure abandoned records with personally identifying information, including health records, and either destroy them or return them to their owners. Additionally, the new law sets fines and other legal ramifications for violations of the law by health care providers or licensed professionals who leave such records unsecured in violation of state law. In fact, the Attorney General has already utilized this authority to obtain personal records from four entities.
This additional grant of authority to the Indiana Attorney General, is in addition to the authority previously granted by the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act to enforce the privacy and security protections of HIPAA for protected health information. As we have previously discussed, the Connecticut Attorney General has filed a civil action against Health Net, as well as instituted an investigation against Griffin Hospital for violations of HIPAA.
The Indiana statute, as with the authority granted to Attorney Generals under HITECH, highlight the need for companies to develop and implement comprehensive data security polices to secure their records.