HHS launches website to aid HIPAA enforcement
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) launched an enhanced website to ease how consumers and healthcare providers obtain information regarding enforcement of health information privacy rights and standards.

"HHS has obtained significant change in the privacy practices of covered entities through its enforcement program,” said Winston Wilkinson, director, HHS Office for Civil Rights. “Corrective actions obtained by HHS from these entities have resulted in change that is systemic and affects all the individuals they serve."

HHS issued the patient privacy protections as a result of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). The rules took effect in April 2003 and remain the only comprehensive federal privacy standards to protect patients' medical records and other health information provided to health plans, doctors, hospitals and other healthcare providers.

The Health Information Privacy site provides comprehensive information about the Privacy Rule, which creates federal rights and requirements to protect the privacy of personal health information. New information contained on the site describes HHS activities in enforcing the Privacy Rule, the results of those enforcement activities, and statistics showing which types of complaints are received most frequently and the types of entities most often required to take corrective action as a result of consumer complaints.

Also, the site covers consumers’ rights to access their health information and how to control their personal health information regarding its use and disclosure, as well as guidance about how to submit complaints about possible violations of the law and extensive guidance for entities who must comply with the rule.

The site is located at http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/privacy/enforcement.